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.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.