ANAHEIM -- The Angels have found their closer for the 2019 season, as they signed right-hander Cody Allen to a one-year contract on Sunday.
According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Allen's deal is worth $8.5 million, with $2 million in incentives for games finished, giving him the potential to earn $10.5 million total. To make room for Allen on the 40-man roster, the Angels designated right-hander Miguel Almonte for assignment.
"Cody has shown a history of durability and a history of being a well-above average reliever," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said on Monday during a conference call. "Obviously, he has a history of closing big games in big spots. We anticipate him as our closer, and it's something we talked to him about during the negotiation process. We wanted to add that veteran presence and playoff experience to a relatively young and inexperienced group."
Allen has extensive experience as a closer, serving in that capacity with the Indians from 2014-18 and racking up 147 saves for an average of 29 per year. He has a strong career ERA of 2.98 in 440 2/3 innings, but the 30-year-old is coming off a down year, as he posted a 4.70 ERA in 70 appearances with Cleveland in '18, including a career-high five blown saves.
Allen struck out 80 and walked 33 in 67 innings, but he served up 11 homers. He saw his fastball velocity dip from an average of 94.3 mph in 2017, when he had a 2.94 ERA, to 93.5 mph last year, per baseballsavant.com. But Eppler said the Angels believe they know why Allen's velocity and location took a step back.
"There were some things delivery-wise specifically from a timing perspective that we were aware of, and more importantly, Cody is aware of and seen," Eppler said. "It was a conversation piece during our negotiations. It was also important for us to see he has that level of awareness that he has some timing things in his delivery that can help him get closer to his custom level of velocity."
Allen's worst ERA before last season was 3.72 as a rookie in 2012 -- and he never had an ERA above 3.00 in any of his other five seasons -- so the Angels will be hoping for a bounce-back year. Allen still has good stuff, as evidenced by his strikeout rate, but he will need to limit homers.
"I'm cautious about pitchers chasing velocity," Eppler said. "He has an above-average fastball velocity as it is. The most important thing is focusing on movement and utilizing your natural pitch characteristics and focusing on location. His curveball still has an elite swing-and-miss rate, and his fastball still is above average. I think there were some things in his ERA that we didn't feel was indicative. I just don't think you can judge ERA in one season."
With Allen expected to serve as closer, it means the Angels will move Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Luis Garcia and Justin Anderson to setup roles. Other relievers in the mix include John Curtiss, Williams Jerez, Taylor Cole, Noe Ramirez, plus Keynan Middleton when he returns from Tommy John surgery midseason.
"It allows us to use the remaining of our personnel in a more matchup-based and leverage-based aspect," Eppler said. "We feel pretty good about the bullpen and the depth of that bullpen. We saw what Hansel Robles did for us in the second half, the value that Ty Buttrey brought, Justin Anderson showing flashes a number of times over the 2018 season that he has the tools and power to pitch at the back of the bullpen. Luis Garcia historically has been able to pitch meaningful innings at the back end of a bullpen. Cam Bedrosian has shown historically he can pitch in bigger situations and has shown the stuff in the past to miss a number of bats. We feel pretty deep in those roles."
The Allen signing could be the last major addition for the Angels this offseason, as Eppler said they stretched the budget a bit to sign Allen and Eppler had to get approval from owner Arte Moreno.
"This doesn't happen without Arte's blessing and Arte allowing us to stretch to get somebody we feel can close for our club in big games," Eppler said. "Arte gave us the green light if we found the right guy, and we feel we found the right guy in Cody."