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.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.