Examining the Los Angeles Angels Arbitration Cases

By David Hill

September 25, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher

Ernesto Frieri

(49) pitches during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, all four eligible members of the Los Angeles Angels filed for arbitration. David Freese, Ernesto Frieri, Fernando Salas and Kevin Jepsen will now exchange their desired salaries with the Angels. Should the two sides not be able to agree to a figure, then the matter will be settled by an arbitrator who will determine the player’s salary for next season.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, these four players are projected to earn a combined $9.9 Million next season. Considering the cost, the Angels are likely to receive excellent value.

David Freese is probably best known for his excellent postseason run in the 2011 postseason, when he was named the MVP of both the NLCS and the World Series. Yet, perhaps overshadowed by his postseason exploits is the fact that Freese is a solid third baseman. Although he suffered through a down season in 2013 for the Cardinals, he still has solid power and has a good approach at the plate. Freese has also been solid defensively, and if needed, can play at first. Should he rediscover the form he displayed in St. Louis in 2011 and 2012, Freese could be quite the bargain at this expected $4.4 Million salary.

While he may not have been as dominant as he was in 2012, Ernest Frieri still put together a decent season as the Angels closer last year. His 2-4 record with a 3.80 ERA may not be stellar, but he saved 37 games and still struck out approximately 13 batters per nine innings while improving his control. Where Frieri faltered as opposed to last season was on balls in play. In 2012, he allowed a .210 batting average on balls in play; last season, that number rose to .297. However, his numbers were in line with his expected performance, as Frieri outpitched his xFIP in 2012 by over a run. Frieri is expected to earn $3.4 Million in arbitration, which if he can end up performing at a level between his 2012 and 2013 seasons, would be quite reasonable.

Rounding out the arbitration cases are Fernando Salas and Kevin Jepsen. Both pitchers are essentially solid arms to help fill out the bullpen, likely taking on roles in middle relief. Salas could be interesting to keep an eye on should Frieri struggle during the season, as he spent time as the Cardinals closer in 2011. Both pitchers are expected to combine for $2.3 Million next season, hardly even a blip on the payroll.

As of this point, the Los Angeles Angels have four players heading to arbitration. If the projections are accurate, they could lock up four solid pieces for under $10 Million for 2014.