Ernesto Frieri is out as the Angels’ closer, Joe Smith is in

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Big changes in Anaheim. Ernesto Frieri, who has spent most of the past three seasons as the Angels’ closer has been relieved of his duties. Mike Scioscia said that Joe Smith will now take over as the team’s closer.

Frieri has been a train wreck in 2014. He has allowed nine runs on fourteen hits in eight and two-thirds innings over ten appearances so far. In his last appearance, on Wednesday, he gave up four runs to blow a three-run lead and the game against the Nationals. Manager Mike Scioscia said that it’s a mechanical problem with Frieri and that, until he can figure out his release point, Frieri will pitch in lower-leverage situations, though likely not in the eighth inning.

Smith has exactly three saves in 450 career big league appearances.

 

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.