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.
Brewers top prospect Keston Hiura has been named the 2018 Arizona Fall League MVP, per an announcement on Saturday. He’s the first Brewers player to receive the distinction since the award was first handed out in 2002.
Hiura, 22, was selected in the first round of the 2017 draft and has remained at the top of the Brewers’ prospect rankings since then. The second baseman was promoted to Double-A for the first time in June and finished the season with an explosive .293/.357/.464 batting line, 13 home runs, and 15 stolen bases (in 26 chances) across 535 PA for High-A and Double-A. During his time in the AFL, he found even greater success after slashing .323/.371/.563 with five homers and a league-best 33 RBI in 96 at-bats.
Following the award announcements — Rockies corner infielder Tyler Nevin won the AFL batting title, while Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker was designated the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award winner — the Arizona Fall League Championship Game kicked off at 3 PM EST with Hiura batting second and playing second base for the Peoria Javelinas, whose roster is comprised of players from the Braves, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, and Rays.