ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels acquired closer Raisel Iglesias from the Cincinnati Reds for right-hander Noé Ramirez and a player to be named or cash Monday in the first trade of the week of baseball’s winter meetings.
Iglesias has been the Reds’ closer for the past four seasons, racking up 100 saves in 114 opportunities over that stretch with a career 3.15 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.
Iglesias will make $9,125,000 next season in the final year of his contract. The trade allows the Reds to save money while putting a cornerstone in the Angels’ bullpen, which is being rebuilt by rookie general manager Perry Minasian this offseason.
“Bullpen is an area we’d like to improve, and we feel like he’s a positive addition in that area,” Minasian said. “He has a history of pitching late in games, a history of pitching in big games. Not only did he fit from a talent standpoint, but a makeup standpoint. He loves to pitch and loves to compete. He’s not scared of the big moment, and we’re very excited to have him.”
Although Minasian didn’t state it outright, the Angels could be in position to make significant gains this month because of wealthy owner Arte Moreno’s willingness to spend money in what could be a depressed free agent market due to many teams’ lost revenue from the coronavirus pandemic. Moreno said last month that the Angels’ payroll won’t go down this season as he attempts to earn the club’s first playoff victory since 2009.
One week after acquiring veteran shortstop José Iglesias from Baltimore, Minasian added one of the most effective closers of the last half-decade. Both Cuban players are in the final year of their contracts, but that didn’t scare off the Halos.
“They’ve been productive players over the course of their careers,” Minasian said of his two recent acquisitions. “You’d love to have more control over two players of this quality, but currently they have one year left and we’re going to see where that goes. Who knows? Maybe down the road, they’re here for a lot longer.”
Raisel Iglesias is one of just five major league relievers with at least 100 saves over the past four seasons along with Edwin Diaz, Kenley Jansen, Brad Hand and Alex Colome.
The 30-year-old Cuban right-hander is coming off a strong performance in the shortened season. He went 4-3 with a 2.74 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP with eight saves and 31 strikeouts against just five walks.
Iglesias had a poor playoff series, capped by allowing a pair of two-run homers in the eighth inning of the Reds’ elimination loss to Atlanta in the wild-card round.
The Reds have playoff aspirations in the wide-open NL Central, but they’ve dramatically decreased their bullpen depth and escaped about $14 million in salary commitments in the past week by trading Iglesias and declining to tender a contract to reliever Archie Bradley.
Ramirez, who turns 31 this month, is a Los Angeles native who was among the Angels’ few effective relievers last season, going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 21 appearances. His low velocity and propensity for giving up homers could be more of a problem in Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly ballpark than in pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium.
The Angels had one of the majors’ least effective pitching staffs yet again last season, and the bullpen is getting a thorough overhaul. Mike Mayers, Ty Buttrey and Félix Peña were the Angels’ three most-used relievers last season, and they’re all still with the club — but the next eight busiest relievers from the 2020 roster are gone.
The Angels have already cut ties with relievers Hansel Robles, Keynan Middleton, Cam Bedrosian, Matt Andriese, Hoby Milner and Justin Anderson since Minasian took over last month.
“We want to play meaningful games at the end of the season,” Minasian said. “We want to be in the mix in September, and in order to do that, we need to improve this roster and add to it.”
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