Reliever Zach Britton exited free agency Saturday when he agreed to re-sign with the Yankees. Before that, Britton drew serious interest from the Angels, who were the top runners-up in the derby for the left-hander, Dan Connolly of The Athletic reports.
Britton will receive anywhere from $26MM to $53MM with the Yankees, and a deal along those lines would have easily made him the Angels’ richest signing this offseason. Thus far, the Angels haven’t handed out more than $11MM in guaranteed money to any free agent, nor have they committed a multiyear deal to anyone. Plus, having plucked Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, Justin Bour and Jonathan Lucroy from the open market, the Angels’ Opening Day payroll already projects to roughly $167MM without Britton. They came close to that figure in each of the previous three seasons, but they’ve never matched or exceeded it under owner Arte Moreno.
Unfortunately for the Angels, with Britton and ex-Yankee teammate David Robertson (whom the Halos were interested in before he signed with Philadelphia), no longer available, high-end relief options in free agency are dwindling. In terms of predicted salaries, the premier free-agent arms are Craig Kimbrel and Adam Ottavino, a pair of righties who are likely to require substantial multiyear commitments. Perhaps the Angels will vie for one or both of them; otherwise, they may opt for a less expensive option such as Kelvin Herrera, Cody Allen, old pal Bud Norris, Brad Brach or Justin Wilson, among others.
As things stand, the Angels haven’t reeled anyone in to upgrade last year’s bullpen, which ranked 13th in ERA and 20th in fWAR. The unit has since lost Blake Parker, whom the Angels non-tendered, and seen Jim Johnson reach free agency. Those two each logged sub-4.00 ERAs (albeit with less encouraging peripherals) across a combined 129 2/3 innings of work in 2018. They also provided the Angels a pair of fairly experienced closer options, which is something the team lacks at the moment. Either Britton or Robertson would have given the Angels a far more proven game-ending choice than anyone on their roster. However, with those two now out of play, the club will have to continue searching if it wants to add an established veteran to its cast of relievers before next season.