The Angels agreed late Thursday to sign free-agent reliever Cody Allen, a move that would provide their bullpen with veteran leadership and the reliable closer it has lacked since Huston Street saved 40 games in 2015.
Allen, 30, would make $8.5 million, plus $2 million in bonuses for games finished, on a one-year contract that is pending a physical examination, according to a source familiar with negotiations but unauthorized to speak publicly.
The struggles of the former Cleveland Indians closer are well documented. Allen, who ended last season with a career-worst 4.70 earned-run average, experienced the sort of on-field turmoil he hadn’t throughout his previous five full seasons in Cleveland. His average fastball velocity dipped to 93.5 mph, 2 mph slower than what he was throwing in 2015, according to MLB.com‘s Statcast system. His strikeout rate dropped while his walk rate increased, signaling command issues with his two-pitch arsenal.
Allen, the Indians’ all-time saves leader with 149, converted 27 of 32 opportunities in 2018. Blake Parker led the Angels with 14 saves last year.
General manager Billy Eppler indicated earlier this offseason that he would be comfortable trying out some of his current relievers — Hansel Robles, Ty Buttrey and Keynan Middleton, once healthy — at the back end of the Angels bullpen this year.He made small moves, like acquiring Luis Garcia from the Phillies in December and not offering a contract to arbitration-eligible Parker, to improve what he referred to as the high-octane profile of his relief corps and perhaps get away with not having a bonafide closer.
But the addition of Allen, who had a 2.59 ERA and 122 saves with 457 strikeouts from 2013 to 2017, will eliminate the uncertainty at the end of games the Angels have dealt with since Eppler became general manager after the 2015 season.
The Angels will have to make a corresponding move on their full 40-man roster to accommodate Allen.