As the Los Angeles Angels continue to look to improve their bullpen by any means possible this offseason, and the acquisition of the Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon could be in the cards.
Throughout this offseason there have been several reports that the 33-year-old right-hander is available which has sparked the interest of a few teams — including the New York Yankees. The eight-year veteran has been a solid closer in the majors as he has recorded 286 saves with 658 strikeouts in 561.0 innings pitched in his career.
Papelbon spent his first six seasons in the league with the Boston Red Sox where he had at least 30 saves, 75 strikeouts and 58.0 innings pitched in each year. Also within that span he had four out of his five All-Star game selections, three seasons with an ERA below 2.00 and only one year where he had an ERA higher than 3.00. His best season was 2006 as he had a 4-2 record with a 0.92 ERA, 75 strikeouts, 0.78 WHIP and converted 35 out of 41 save opportunities.
In 2012, Papelbon signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies, and over the past two seasons he has been a solid closer for the team as he averaged a 2.68 ERA with 34 saves and 73 strikeouts in 65.1 innings pitched. However, the right-hander appeared to drop off a bit in 2013 as he had career-lows in saves (29), strikeouts (57) and his second-highest amount of blown saves (7) in a season.
So with that said, where do the Halos factor into this equation?
The Angels’ current closer, Ernesto Frieri, was bit of a shaky closer last season as he had a career-highs in ERA (3.80), blown saves (4), hits (55) and home runs allowed (11). Frieri did, however, manage to record 37 saves, but his high ERA and lack of consistent command in any other pitch besides his fastball make him a risky choice as the Halos’ closer moving forward.
Although Papelbon had his fair share of struggles last season there is no doubt he is a proven closer, and when he is performing at a high level he is nothing short than dominant on the mound. So if the Halos were to acquire the veteran pitcher it would be a huge upgrade at the closer position.
The addition of Papelbon would place Frieri in a role as a late innings reliever which he thrived in when he first was acquired by the Halos in May 2012. His first 13 appearances included no hits or runs allowed in 13 innings pitched and no runs given up in his first 26 appearances.
So with the five-time All-Star as Los Angeles’ closer, it would be another step toward strengthening the bullpen for this upcoming season.