The Angels have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for free agent closers this winter, but the team isn’t planning on making any changes. Or at least that’s what they are saying right now.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was on MLB Network Radio on Sirius-XM yesterday and told host Mel Antonen that Ernesto Frieri will be the closer in 2014. While this sounds like a vote of confidence, it could be an attempt to downplay interest in some of the big-name closers on the market, including Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour.
Frieri is coming off an up-and-down year in which he posted a 3.80 ERA and 98/30 K/BB ratio over 68 2/3 innings while going 37-for-41 in save chances. Known as a fly ball pitcher, he gave up 11 home runs after allowing 12 combined between 2011 and 2012. The 28-year-old right-hander is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.
You can listen to part of Dipoto’s interview on Sirius-XM here, where he also touches on yesterday’s acquisition of David Freese.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.