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AL West: Angels acquire closer Raisel Iglesias amid bullpen shakeup

The Halos’ second new Iglesias of the offseason

Cincinnati Reds v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels have been an embarrassment for a long time. They’ve made the playoffs just once in the last decade despite employing the best player in the sport since 2012, and they haven’t even finished above .500 in any of the last five seasons despite a hefty payroll.

Their failure usually comes from not having enough pitching, and they usually don’t have enough pitching because they forget to add any during the offseason while they’re off signing the next luxury superstar right-handed bat they don’t need.

But now there’s a new general manager in town, so perhaps the Halos will finally adjust their strategy toward constructing a baseball team instead of a flashy marketing catalogue. That would be a bummer for the Oakland A’s, as it would add one more big-budget opponent to the AL West division ranks after years of simply not having to worry about anything coming out of Anaheim.

To wit, GM Perry Minasian is already setting to work rebuilding the bullpen, an area of the team that the previous administration didn’t know existed. Gone is 2019 closer Hansel Robles, and solid swingman Matt Andriese, and long-injured Kenyan Middleton, all non-tendered and cut loose. Now Minasian has made his first serious move on the pitching staff, swapping another mainstay for a new star closer.

The Angels acquired Raisel Iglesias from the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, in exchange for reliever Noe Ramirez and a player to be named later, the teams announced. Cincy will also send some cash over.

The headliner is Iglesias, who has been the Reds closer since 2017. For his career, his 3.15 ERA and 3.44 FIP are both excellent, and he’s converted 118 of his 134 save/hold chances for a brilliant 88% success rate. He’s never been an All-Star, but he would have had a strong chance at it this year if teams had been picked. He was as good as ever this summer in the short season (at age 30).

Iglesias, 2020: 2.74 ERA, 23 ip, 31 Ks, 5 BB, 1 HR, 1.84 FIP, .236 xwOBA

However, there is a downside to Iglesias’ profile, helping make him available in the first place — he’s due $9.1 million in 2021, in the final year of his contract. That makes him a one-year rental, and an expensive one in an offseason when the league’s overall spending might potentially go down.

Still, there’s no such thing as a bad one-year contract due to its lack of long-term risk, as long as this move doesn’t prevent them from spending on other things they need in 2021. Either way, there’s no question Iglesias makes the Angels better in one of their weakest areas. They led the majors in blown saves this summer, and their pen had one of the worst Win Probability Added marks as well. Now they have a lockdown star in the 9th inning.

What do you think, Athletics Nation? Good move for the Angels? Or too much to spend on something they might have found cheaper? Is this an example of better team-building in Anaheim, or will it just lead to a different form of ineffective top-heavy roster? Also, would you rather have Iglesias at this price, or Brad Hand for basically the same price when he was available on waivers? To the comments!

Also, fun fact: This is the second player named Iglesias the Angels have acquired this winter. They also added shortstop Jose Iglesias in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles. Jose and Raisel are unrelated, though they are both from Cuba.