Angels add veteran reliever Estévez on two-year deal

December 6th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The Angels fortified their bullpen at the Winter Meetings on Monday, as they agreed to terms with veteran reliever on a two-year deal worth $13.5 million -- $6.75 million annually.

Estévez is coming off a strong year with the Rockies, as he posted a 3.47 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 57 innings. He's spent his entire six-year career with Colorado and has a 4.59 ERA with 312 strikeouts in 302 innings over that span. The hard-throwing right-hander also has a career 3.51 ERA with 152 strikeouts in 142 2/3 innings away from hitter-friendly Coors Field and posted a 1.40 ERA in 25 2/3 innings in the second half of last season, which appealed to the Angels.

"One of the things I've talked about a lot is improving the bullpen and we felt like we needed some power because it was something we lacked to a certain extent," Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. "Just pure stuff. And what he's been able to accomplish in Colorado, which is obviously a difficult place to pitch. What he did in the second half, he performed extremely well. How his stuff plays outside of Colorado, we really did some digging into some of the numbers.”

The 29-year-old also has closing experience, as he has 25 career saves, including 11 as a rookie in '16 and 11 in '21. The Angels have been in the market for a closer after trading Raisel Iglesias to the Braves at the Trade Deadline and Estévez could help fill that role.

Minasian said it’ll be up to manager Phil Nevin on how Estévez will be utilized but he said he believes Estévez has the stuff and experience to close, if needed.

“Our bullpen is wide open,” Minasian said. “He's going to have a chance to pitch late and in the back end and it's going to be Phil's call but we feel like we've got multiple guys that can do that. But absolutely, I think he has the talent to do that and he's done it at certain points in his career. Having that ninth inning solved is always a nice feeling but we've seen other clubs do it different ways. Sometimes certain matchups dictate usage."

Estévez leans heavily on his fastball, which averages 97.5 mph, as he throws it roughly 70 percent of the time. The right-hander also mixes in his 86-88 mph slider and 87-89 mph changeup, throwing both pitches roughly 15 percent of the time. He was tougher on right-handers than lefties last year, as he held righties to a .598 OPS with one homer allowed in 113 plate appearances, while lefties had a .719 OPS with six homers in 122 plate appearances against him.

He joins a bullpen that has veteran relievers and . and also had breakout seasons in relief last year as well. is likely to be in long relief and was also solid last year.

Still, adding to the bullpen remains a priority this offseason for the Angels, who are also in the market for middle-infield help and could possibly add a starting pitcher.

"We want to provide our manager and our coaching staff with multiple options,” Minasian said. “That's our job. That's my job. So it doesn't mean we're done in the bullpen. If there's more there, we'll definitely take a look and you can never have enough. But we feel like this was a huge, huge addition for us."

With the addition of Estévez, the Angels have continued to be aggressive early this offseason despite owner Arte Moreno exploring a possible sale. They signed lefty Tyler Anderson to a three-year deal worth $39 million and also traded for both infielder Gio Urshela and outfielder Hunter Renfroe. Urshela and Renfroe are expected to make roughly $20 million combined via arbitration this offseason.

The club's projected payroll is at roughly $198 million, per FanGraphs, which is $18 million more than last year's final payroll of about $180 million. And for luxury tax purposes, the club's payroll is roughly $212 million with the first luxury tax threshold at $233 million.

"When there's a good opportunity that presents itself, I take it and I go to ownership and I basically present my case of why this makes sense,” Minasian said. “And we've been able to improve this club significantly at this point. And we still want to do more. There's still areas where we can improve."