Angels sign Robert Stephenson to a three-year contract
The angels agree with the Savior Robert Stevenson With a three-year warranty with an option for 2027, as first reported by @Jolly_Olive (On X). Stevenson, an Apex Baseball prospect, is guaranteed $33 million, Sam Blum of The Athletic reports. The deal is awaiting physical. Los Angeles has a full 40-man roster, so they will need to make a corresponding move once the contract is finalized.
Stevenson, who turns 31 next month, was once the top free agent remaining Josh Hader He came off the board. Within two hours of Hader agreeing to a five-year, $95 million agreement with the Astros, Stephenson decided to join him in the AL West.
A three-year guarantee for Stevenson would have seemed strange six months ago. Until last summer, he looked like an inconsistent arm in the middle innings. A former first-round pick and highly regarded with the Reds, Stevenson struggled early in his career as a starter. He moved to full-time relief in 2019 and has had an up and down trajectory.
The 6’3″ righty pitched to a sub-4.00 ERA in 2019 and ’21 before a rough 2022 campaign. He split the year between the Rockies and Pirates, allowing a 5.43 ERA over 58 innings. Stevenson opened last season with 14 innings of nine-inning ball in Pittsburgh.
An early June trade sent him to the Rays for an infielder Alice Williams It didn’t generate much buzz. It ended up being one of the more skillful rental acquisitions of the summer, even though it completely changed his fortunes in free agency.
Stevenson was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the major leagues over the final four months of the season. During his time in Tampa Bay, he pitched to a 2.35 ERA across 38 1/3 innings. He has struck out a laughable 42.9% of batters while walking (less than 6% of batters he faces). Among only relievers with 30+ innings pitched after June 1 Felix Bautista, Aroldis Chapman And Pete Fairbanks He punches hitters at a higher rate.
Even that doesn’t show how overpowered he is on a pitch-for-pitch basis. Opponents blew more often than they called. Hitters put the bat on the ball on 49.3% of their swings against Stephenson in Tampa Bay. This simply wasn’t the best mark in MLB. He was about 10 percentage points lower than everyone else during that stretch. Chapman, who hitters connected with on 59% of their swings, was second.
It is not difficult to pinpoint a reason for this distinction. Before he went to Tampa Bay, he paired a four-seam fastball that was roughly 97 mph with a mid-80s slider. With the Rays, he relied mostly on his 80s breaking ball which Statcast classifies as a cutter. Opponents can’t do anything with this field. They swung through it nearly three-fifths of the time and hit .101 in 79 at-bats. By the final month of the season, the field was being used at about 75%.
It’s not clear whether Stevenson adopted the cutter from scratch or found a way to add a few ticks of speed to his previous slider. However, he will certainly be relied upon a lot in Orange County. The Angels can’t expect him to maintain the form he showed in Tampa Bay — that would be a tough ask for anyone — but they certainly expect him to step in as a quality arm.
This is not without risks. Stevenson’s tight end was excellent, and his time in Tampa Bay consisted of less than 40 innings. Since moving to the bullpen for 2019 during his time in Pittsburgh, he has posted a 4.53 ERA in 192 2/3 frames between three teams. Some of that can be attributed to playing in very friendly home stadiums in Cincinnati and Colorado, but he clearly wouldn’t have been a candidate for a three-year deal had it not ended the way it did. His 26.9% strikeout rate over those four additional seasons was a solid number but hardly an elite number.
It’s the first significant acquisition of the holiday season for Halos. While Stevenson is their fourth pick overall, the other three signings were modest one-year investments. Luis Garcia She received a deal worth $4.75 million, while… Adam Semper Signed a $1.65 million pact after being non-tendered by Toronto. Adam Kolarikwho signed for $900,000, has already been left off the 40-man roster.
Stevenson will work the late innings. He doesn’t have any lockout experience, so the Halos could opt to leave last year’s lead pickup truck, Carlos Estevez, in the ninth inning. The right-handed pair of players should handle the bulk of the most important work late in games. Garcia and Cimber will fill middle relief roles, while… Ben Joyce And Jose Soriano Can hold setup functions.
It’s a high-octane lineup built around some of the toughest shooters in the sport. Joyce averaged nearly 101 mph on his heater, and is known to have reached 105 mph in college. Estevez and Garcia northbound at 97 mph on average. Soriano and Stevenson have 90-second speed in their back pocket as well, even if they both frequently rely on breakaways.
New manager Ron Washington should appreciate the steady power arsenals at his disposal, though the Halos will likely need to add another left fielder to the mix. That could put the finishing touch on the bullpen, however there is still a lot of work for GM Perry Minasian and his front office.
The Halos did not make any possessions on the offensive end to compensate Shuhei Ohtani leave. This is also true in rotation. They looked for ways to add a high-end starter. In addition to looking into the trade market, the Halos have reportedly expressed interest in defending the NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell.
There should be plenty of payroll space at their disposal. Roster Resource projected 2024 player salaries to be around $153 million before Stevenson signed. Distributing his salaries equally would amount to about $164 million. The Halos opened last season with a payroll of about $212 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts calculations. They would still be roughly $50 million away from that mark. It’s also nowhere near the base luxury tax threshold of $237 million next year. Stevenson’s average annual value of $11 million would push the Angels’ projected CBT number to roughly $179 million.
The contract comes in just short of MLBTR’s projection of four years and $36 million. It’s in line with the going rate for highly leveraged relievers with some inconsistency in their career record, as shown in MLBTR’s Contract Tracker. Stevenson’s deal is generally consistent with the one he signed Taylor Rogers (three years, $33 million), Rafael Montero (three years, $34.5 million), Joe Jimenez (three years, $26.5 million), former angel Reynaldo Lopez (Three years, $30 million) and Jordan Hicks (four years, $44 million) over the last two seasons.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.
(Tags for translation) Robert Stevenson