The Los Angeles Angels ended last season with a patchwork group to close out games, mainly featuring Jimmy Herget, Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup. But heading into 2023, the offseason addition of Carlos Estévez provides manager Phil Nevin with another option at the backend.
A hidden gem on the Angels’ roster is their starting rotation, but after trading Raisel Iglesias at the trade deadline last season, there hasn’t been a clear-cut arm to take over that role. Herget did have some success, but the second-year reliever doesn’t possess the high-powered stuff the average closer has.
However, Estévez is a different story, flashing an upper 90s fastball that provides some wiggle room if left over the heart of the plate and that can get someone out of a high-leverage spot. Although the soon-to-be 30-year-old sported a 3.47 ERA for the entirety of the 2022 season, in his last 25.2 innings, he carried a 1.40 ERA.
Estévez surrendered a minuscule .146 batting average to opposing hitters in the second-half, a mark that earned him a two-year deal with the Angels and a shot to take over as the team’s closer, via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I’m not going to lie, it would be great if I won the closer job,” Estévez said via Zoom. “What reliever doesn’t want to be a closer? If they tell you they don’t want to be a closer, I mean, come on.”
The Angels finished the season with 27 blown saves out of 65 opportunities, a number that didn’t sit well with Nevin or general manager Perry Minasian. Estévez isn’t a lock to take over as the team’s closer, nor will the team commit to him before a competition, but his second-half success will give him an edge.
The Angels are expected to continue pursuing bullpen upgrades, but the lack of true impact relievers available has diminished quickly.
Angels not viewing luxury tax threshold as hard spending cap
The Angels have a pre-arbitration payroll of roughly $153 million, which ranks fifth-highest in Major League Baseball. With a projected payroll north of $210 million, general manager Perry Minasian doesn’t view the approaching $233 million Collective Bargaining Tax Threshold as a hard cap.
The Angels have flown under the radar with a generally high payroll, but their on-field production hasn’t matched the contracts they’ve handed out in the past, which causes concern that it may happen again.
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