The Angels and reliever Ernesto Frieri have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.8 million deal, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Frieri, 28, was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career and can become a free agent after the 2016 season.
Frieri’s 3.80 ERA in 2013 was a career-high, but it is also a bit misleading. Five of the 29 earned runs he allowed all season came in one appearance which lasted one-third of an inning on July 23 against the Twins. Without that meltdown, his ERA would have been 3.16, which is a bit more in line with what we would expect based on his tremendous strikeout rate.
The Angels also signed free agent Joe Smith to a three-year, $15 million contract in late November. In the event Frieri struggles, the Angels have adequate backup.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.