The Los Angeles Angels have kept themselves busy in the days leading up to Spring Training. General manager Perry Minasian hinted that the team was not done making moves, and he responded to that by adding veteran relievers Archie Bradley and Ryan Tepera.
Bradley and Tepera were two of the best relievers on the free agent market before the Angels scooped them up. They signed Bradley to a one-year, $3.25 million deal and Tepera to a two-year, $14 million deal.
With those additions, the Angels have gone from a team that had a serious bullpen problem in 2021 to perhaps having one of the strongest relief crews in the Major Leagues. Behind closer Raisel Iglesias, the Angels had very little support. Now, they have plenty.
Here, we’ll break down the projected Angels bullpen — based on their moves as of March 18 — and where they could go from here to build out the rest of the roster.
RHP Raisel Iglesias
The Angels re-signed Iglesias to a four-year, $58 million contract just before the lockout. This is one of the largest contract the Halos had ever given to a relief pitcher, but it was well warranted, as Iglesias was arguably a top-5 reliever in MLB in 2021.
With him as the anchor, the Halos can feel confident holding on to close leads down the stretch of games. Hopefully, in 2022, they can limit the amount of times Iglesias needs to go for multi-inning saves.
LHP Aaron Loup
Loup was one of the Angels’ major pre-lockout signings, bringing him over from the New York Mets, where he was absolutely dominant in 2021. Loup received $15 million from the Halos over the next two seasons after putting up an absurd 0.95 ERA and 0.935 WHIP.
The 1-2 punch of Loup and Iglesias is a scary thought if both can repeat anywhere close to their 2021 production.
RHP Ryan Tepera
The Angels signed Tepera to a two-year, $14 million deal earlier this week after an extremely strong 2021 campaign with the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs. With a 2.79 ERA, 0.880 WHIP, and a 3.89 K-to-BB ratio, Tepera’s consistency should make life easier on Joe Maddon in 2022.
RHP Archie Bradley
Bradley received a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the Angels just before Tepera. And while Bradley isn’t the consistent force that Tepera and Iglesias have been, he still can be a strong part of the Halos bullpen.
Bradley had a 3.71 ERA over 51.0 innings last season with the Philadelphia Phillies. Not known for his strikeouts, Bradley has been great throughout his career at forcing groundballs and bad contact, a useful skill for the Angels in 2022.
RHP Mike Mayers
Mayers has been one of the better Angels relievers over the past two seasons since coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2020. After a dominant 2020 season, he took a slight step back in his most recent campaign. However, he still had a strong 3.84 ERA, 1.293 WHIP, and 90 strikeouts compared to just 26 walks over 75 innings.
Mayers could serve as a high-leverage middle reliever, now that the set-up role is occupied by Loup. If Tepera or Loup are unavailable due to rest, Mayers could easily step up into a bigger role on any given day.
RHP Austin Warren
Warren provides an injection of youth into the Angels bullpen. At 26 years old, Warren shined in his rookie year with the Halos, posting a 1.77 ERA and 1.033 WHIP in 20.1 innings. Of course, a larger sample size is needed before the Angels can truly make him a high-leverage player, but the tools and the potential are all there for him to take that step.
LHP Jose Quijada
The first six players on this list all appear to be locks to make the big league bullpen. The final two spots could be up for debate, but Quijada will be in strong consideration. The Angels will need more left-handed arms in their relief crew beyond just Loup.
Quijada is not only a left-handed pitcher, but he is capable of going two innings if need be, as he did multiple times during the 2021 season. In 25.2 innings, Quijada finished with a 4.56 ERA and 1.364 WHIP, but with an impressive 13.3 K-per-nine.
LHP Jhonathan Diaz
At some point this season, the hope is that Chris Rodriguez will be healthy enough to take this spot. But for now, it goes to left-handed pitcher Jhonathan Diaz. Diaz is 25 years old and has pitched in just 13 MLB innings, but he impressed with his ability to force bad contact.
This spot could also go Jimmy Herget or a number of the Minor League pitchers currently in Double-A or Triple-A.
Would Angels go after Trevor Story?
The Angels still have some work to do to fill out the rest of the roster. Acquiring one more quality starter via free agency or trade would be ideal, but perhaps their most glaring hole is at shortstop.
On Friday night, Carlos Correa — the best shortstop on the free agent market — wound up with the Minnesota Twins. So perhaps the Angels — who have not yet been connected to Trevor Story — could swoop in as a surprise team and sign him to man the middle of the infield next to David Fletcher.