Posted on January 18, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Cleveland Indians Cody Allen
Image via cleveland.com

Longtime Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen has been largely overlooked this offseason in a crowded relief pitcher market. But he appears to have found a new home. Allen has reportedly reached a deal to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. The two sides agreed to a one-year contract worth $8.5 million, plus $2.5 million in incentives based on games finished.

The 30-year old Allen has never been considered among the game’s elite closers. However, he’s been solid and steady while racking up 149 saves for the Indians over the past six seasons. He also posted an ERA under 3.00 for five consecutive seasons. Allen was also an integral part of Cleveland’s run to the World Series in 2016.

Of course, Allen is also coming off the worst season of his career. He and the entire Cleveland bullpen took a step backward in 2018. In 70 appearances last season, Allen went 4-6 with a 4.70 ERA. Opposing hitters batted .231 against him, the highest average he’s allowed since the 2013 season. Such a rocky season no doubt led to a rather tepid market for Allen’s services this winter, especially in a market that offered an abundance of late-game relievers.

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However, the Angels are willing to give Allen a chance. The signing of Allen continues a trend the Halos have followed all winter, which is taking a chance on veterans who have seen better days but still offer some upside. The Angels have added the likes of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill to their rotation. They also signed Jonathan Lucroy to be their catcher despite a couple of down seasons. Adding Allen to their bullpen is a similar risk-reward scenario.

If he can have a bounce-back season, Allen will provide a solution to the vacancy the Angels have at the back end of their bullpen. Los Angeles used several pitchers to close out games for them last season. Nine different pitchers recorded saves in 2018, including six who had multiple saves. The hope is that Allen can provide the Halos with a full-time closer, giving their bullpen some much-needed stability.

In addition to Allen, the Angels are hoping the likes of Justin Anderson and Cam Bedrosian can step into setup roles after both enjoyed solid campaigns in 2018. Los Angeles is also hoping to get something out of bullpen options like Hansel Robles, Ty Buttrey, and Noe Ramirez. Meanwhile, they await the return of Keynan Middleton, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May after notching six saves in April. He should be ready to return at some point in 2019.

Obviously, Allen alone isn’t going to transform the Los Angeles bullpen. He’s not even a sure thing to work out, which is why he’s settling for a one-year deal. However, he does offer a certain amount of promise and upside. He’s a proven closer who just happens to be coming off a rough season, so there’s a good chance he bounced back in 2019. On paper, the Los Angeles bullpen still has plenty of questions. But Allen provides a possible answer to the biggest question, which is a step in the right direction for the Angels.

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