The Angels failed to retain left-hander Jason Vargas when he jumped at a four-year, $32 million contract from the Royals today, but Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports that the club continues to pursue free agent reliever Joe Smith as a possible bullpen upgrade.
Smith quietly owns a 2.97 ERA over seven seasons in the majors, the last five as a member of the Indians. This includes a 2.42 ERA over the past three seasons, during which he has made at least 70 appearances in each. The 29-year-old right-hander owns a 57.2 percent ground ball rate for his career. He should do quite well for himself this winter.
Bowden reported yesterday that the Angels are also looking at J.P. Howell and Edward Mujica for their bullpen.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.
The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.
Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.
President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.