Angels bolster bullpen by signing Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley
The Angels made two significant moves to bolster their bullpen Thursday, agreeing to terms with Ryan Tepera on a two-year, $14-million deal and Archie Bradley on a one-year, $3.75-million deal, according to two people familiar with the signings but not authorized to speak publicly about them.
Tepera, 34, has a 12-14 career record and 3.48 ERA with 12 saves in seven big league seasons, his first five with the Toronto Blue Jays. Bradley, 29, has a 30-28 career record and 3.89 ERA with 30 saves in seven big league seasons, his first six with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Tepera spent last season with the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, going 0-2 with a 2.79 ERA and two saves in 65 games, striking out 74 and walking 19 in 61 1/3 innings.
Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon return to the Angels after injury-marred seasons. Combined by Shohei Ohtani, they could form one of the game’s best trios.
The 6-4, 215-pound Bradley played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2021, going 7-3 with a 3.71 ERA and two saves in 53 games, striking out 40 and walking 22 in 51 innings.
Iglesias, Loup, Tepera, Bradley and right-hander Mike Mayers should give manager Joe Maddon five established late-game options when the Angels are tied or ahead and allow him to confine Iglesias, who signed a four-year, $58-million deal to remain in Anaheim, to the ninth inning.
Iglesias, 32, recovered from a rocky April to go 7-5 with a 2.57 ERA and 34 saves in 65 games last season, striking out 103 and walking just 12 in 70 innings, his 8.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio second among major league relievers behind White Sox closer Liam Hendriks.
Iglesias — a former starter for the Cuban national team — was durable enough to pitch one-plus inning 15 times, three of them two-inning appearances, and record eight saves of at least four outs.
The right-hander said through an interpreter Thursday that he was “more than happy” to pitch two innings if that would “help the team win,” but Maddon doesn’t think that will be necessary.
“We’re gonna try to refrain from that until we get to the playoffs,” Maddon, ever the optimist, said before Thursday’s workout. “We’re trying to get more utility out of him, plus, I think we’re better in front of him. Last year when we used him one-plus, we were kind of thin in the bullpen.”
Iglesias combines a 97-mph fastball with a nasty 85-mph slider and 89-mph changeup, and his stuff rarely tailed off in the second inning of multi-inning appearances.
But Maddon says he believes limiting Iglesias to one inning will preserve his health, help him maintain his stuff over the course of the grueling six-month season and eliminate the mental stress of having to escape an eighth-inning jam and return to pitch the ninth.
“We have him for several years now, and you don’t want to burn him out too quickly,” Maddon said. “I’m not opposed to it, maybe the latter part of the year. If you’re in the hunt in September, then you would probably want to do something like that. But when you have enough legitimate guys in front of him, you try to stay away from that as much as possible.”
Tepera and Bradley certainly qualify as a “legitimate guys.” Tepera relies primarily on a four-seam fastball that, according to Fangraphs, averaged 93.3 mph last season, and a sharp slider that averaged 86.5 mph, and he mixes in an occasional 86.6-mph split-changeup. He gave up only 35 hits in 61 1/3 innings last season.
Tepera threw his slider 5% of the time in 2020. He increased his use of the pitch to 45% of the time in 2021 and ended 53 of his 73 strikeouts with the slider.
A first-round pick (seventh overall) of the Diamondbacks in 2011, Bradley spent his first two big league seasons (2015-2016) as a starter before transitioning to the bullpen.
He features a fastball that has averaged 94.3 mph throughout his career, an 80.8-mph curve and an 86.1-mph changeup. He served as Arizona’s closer for much of 2019, going 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA and 18 saves in 66 games, striking out 87 and walking 36 in 71 2/3 innings.
Aaron Loup joined an exclusive club last season when he posted a sub-1.00 ERA with at least 50 innings pitched.
Michael Lorenzen, a former Cal State Fullerton standout who signed a one-year, $6.75-million deal in November, will start Friday’s Cactus League opener against the Oakland Athletics in Mesa, Ariz.
Outfielders Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh, infielders Jack Mayfield and Luis Rengifo and catcher Matt Thaiss will be in lineup. Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and possibly Shohei Ohtani (at designated hitter) are expected to play Saturday against the Diamondbacks at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
“It’s a home game,” Maddon said of Saturday’s game. “You like to take care of the varsity as much as you can.”
Ohtani, who faced Noah Syndergaard in a live batting-practice session Thursday, is scheduled to make his first mound appearance of the spring on Monday, but it probably will be in a minor league game so the Angels can better control the right-hander’s pitch count.
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