Angels Sign Reliever Joe Smith

By Michael Hllywa

When Jerry Dipoto doesn’t always hit the ground, but when he does, he hits the ground running. After firing up the Angels hot stove by trading cult hero, Peter Bourjos, for David Freese, Dipoto didn’t let his hot plate cool down before striking again. His first move cleared up the logjam in the outfield. With his second move, he signed Joe Smith (pending a physical) to a three-year $15.75MM deal to shore up a bullpen that was beyond inconsistent last season.

I don’t know how important it was that the Angels threw in a third year to secure Smith’s services, but I would have preferred that the contract not be as long as it is. Besides that, it is hard to overly hate on this signing.

Over his last three years, Smith has averaged 65.1 innings per season, 71 appearances and has a 2.42 ERA over that span. His WHIP has ticked upwards from 1.09 in 2011 to 1.22 last season, but his strikeout-rate has also climbed from 16.9% in 2011 to last year’s 20.1%.

The upside to the Angels inking Joe Smith is, the back end of the Angels bullpen now seems fortified with a group of good arms. Ernesto Frieri still holds the ninth inning, Dane De La Rosa is the clear eighth inning candidate followed by Sean Burnett and Smith. That’s a quality group of arms. The middle relief corp is still undecided, but this looks like a group of pitchers that can turn a game into a five-inning affair regularly.

The downside? The Angels have now spent roughly $9MM, and have yet to add a starting pitcher. This leads me to believe that we have most likely seen Howie Kendrick‘s last game in an Angels uniform as Dipoto will need to get crafty in order to bring a starter into the fold to fill out the rotation.