Angels Not Planning To Replace Frieri As Closer

The Angels will stick with Ernesto Frieri as the club's closer next year, GM Jerry Dipoto told MLBNetworkRadio host Mel Antonen (link to Twitter; hat tip to Evan Grant). There had been some preliminary links between the Halos and back-end relievers like Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour. (See, e.g., here and here.)

If the Angels are indeed uninterested in signing a closer — or, at least, in signing a former closer to occupy that role at a premium rate — it could mean additional market pressure for an already-crowded group of 9th inning men. Per MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, as reflected in his list of the top-fifty free agents, the Angels were one of a relatively small number of teams that might have been players at the top end of the relief market. If their closer job is not open, one additional closer will presumably be forced to take a lesser deal to throw in earlier innings.

Frieri is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $3.4MM in his first trip through arbitration. Though he managed just a 3.80 ERA in 2013, Frieri threw the last pitch in 37 victories, which significantly boosts his arbitration case.

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