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.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Athletics and Cardinals have agreed on a trade involving outfielder Stephen Piscotty. The Cardinals will receive two as yet unknown minor leaguers in return.
Piscotty, 26, hit .235/.342/.367 with nine home runs and 39 RBI in 401 plate appearances for the Cardinals this past season. He dealt with injuries and with his mother’s ALS diagnosis, so it was a rough year, but very excusably so. The Cardinals had signed him to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension in March. He’s under contract through 2022 at a total of $29.5 million and has a club option for 2023 worth $15 million with a $1 million buyout.
The Cardinals had an outfield spot open up after agreeing to acquire Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins on Wednesday so the Piscotty trade doesn’t come as a surprise.