When the Los Angeles Angels dealt for Raisel Iglesias last offseason, they were hoping that he would give them the reliable closer they had been desperately searching for. The results were better than even they likely expected, as Iglesias has been one of the best closers in baseball in 2021.
In 63 appearances this season — as of Friday morning — Iglesias has pitched 68.0 innings and record 33 saves, the sixth highest figure in MLB. He also has a whopping 101 strikeouts while walking just 12 batters to give him a 0.926 WHIP. His 2.65 ERA is also solid, with his only discernible flaw being the home run ball, as he’s allowed 11 this year.
Now, Iglesias enters free agency as undoubtedly the best reliever on the market. He’s set himself up to be paid handsomely after an elite 2021 season, but is really just hopeful that he can stay with the Angels, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“One of the main priorities going into the offseason, going into free agency, is hopefully re-signing with this team,” Iglesias said through an interpreter. “I like it here, but obviously whatever the future and destiny has will dictate everything.”
“My main priority is listening first and foremost to what the Angels have to offer me,” he said. “That’s my No. 1 right now. If nothing gets settled and I don’t sign, I am excited to hear what other teams have to offer.”
Iglesias’ remarkable 2021 season and surprising consistency for a reliever should make him one of the highest paid bullpen pitchers in baseball in 2022. To get a sense of his value, look no further than Liam Hendriks.
Hendriks was the best reliever on the market last offseason, and wound up signing a three-year, $54 million contract with a base annual salary of $11 million. Hendriks is generally seen as better than Igelsias, but the numbers put them in a similar ballpark.
If that does end up being Iglesias’ value, the Angels will have to make a big decision as to whether or not it’s worth it. L.A. will have money to spend this offseason, but they have more pressing needs — such as starting pitchers — and it’s a fair question if spending up to $18 million per season for the most volatile position in baseball is a good use of funds.
However, if Iglesias does want to return, perhaps a deal that works for both sides can be negotiated, as it’s obvious the Angels would like to keep him at the right price.
Joe Maddon explains plan to land free agent pitchers
Angels manager Joe Maddon has already gone public with his strategy to land top free agent starting pitchers this offseason. His goal is to lure two frontline starters by selling them on being the final pieces needed to complete a championship core.