The Angels are on the hunt for reliable, veteran starting pitching depth to add to their rotation in 2015. Ryan Vogelsong is in the middle tier of the free agent arms available, so his price tag may be something the cash strapped Angels can handle.
Vogelsong’s market has been slow to develop this offseason, and likely will remain stalled until the top available pitchers are off the board. It has been speculated that the 37-year-old right-hander would welcome a reunion with the San Francisco Giants, but based in his track record he is a guy the Halos may have interest in.
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Ryan Vogelsong has had a fascinating eight-year Major League career, filled with highs and lows. Vogelsong was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 8th round of the 1998 draft. The Giants called Vogelsong up as a 22-year-old in 2000, but dealt him to the Pittsburgh Pirates the following season. Vogelsong struggled in his five seasons with the Bucs before being let go in 2006. Vogelsong went on to spend three seasons playing in Japan, before finally resurrecting his career in San Francisco with the Giants in 2011.
Ryan Vogelsong has overcome plenty of adversity in his career, and has developed into a quality starter over the past four seasons in Frisco. Since returning to the Major Leagues in 2011, Vogelsong has made 110 starts for the Giants in the regular season, and 7 postseason starts. In his first season back from Japan, Vogelsong was named to the All-Star team. Vogelsong is one of the most experienced arms available this offseason, and his numbers in the postseason are truly impressive. The Giants have won two World Series titles during Vogelsong’s tenure, and he has played a big role in both championship runs. Vogelsong is 3-0, with a 2.92 ERA in 7 career postseason starts, including going 1-0, with a 3.86 ERA in the World Series.
Ryan Vogelsong will turn 38 in 2015, but for an aging pitcher he has shown minimal signs of slowing down. 2014 was a bounce back season for Vogelsong after a rough 2013. Vogelsong made a career high 32 starts for the Giants last season, going 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA. While those numbers are not earth shattering, he did do some good things for the Giants. In three of his last four seasons, Vogelsong has registered a FIP lower than 3.85, thrown at least 179.1 innings, and kept his ERA at or below 4.00. In 2014 Vogelsong averaged 7.4 strikeouts per 9 innings, and issued 2.8 walks per 9 innings. His 2.60 strikeout per walk ratio last season was a career high.
San Francisco has employed a very talented starting five over the last few seasons, and Vogelsong is a name often overlooked. Vogelsong knows his role is not to be the ace, and he seems to enjoy being a supporting member of the staff. My guess is he would relish the opportunity to pitch out of the fourth or fifth spot in the Halos rotation. Vogelsong does possess some experience working out of the pen as a reliever, so there is some flexibility there. At the very least, signing Vogelsong would help stabilize the Angels starting rotation heading into next season.
Ryan Vogelsong’s age is the biggest negative working against him in contract talks. Vogelsong is set to turn 38 next July, which presents significant risk to any interested teams. It is a rare pitcher that improves upon his numbers at 38-years-old. Durability has been a major strength for Vogelsong over his career, but the likelihood of getting injured improves greatly when you are pushing 40.
Overall, Ryan Vogelsong has been very consistent in his four seasons since returning from the NPB, but 2013 was a horse of a different color. Vogelsong made just 19 starts for the Giants in 2013, going 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA. Those obviously are not the numbers of a quality starting pitcher. Although Vogelsong did rebound this past season, his performance in 2013 is definitely a red flag. Vogelsong has been successful over his career in October, but 2014 was not kind to the veteran righty. Vogelsong lasted less than three innings in his lone World Series start against the Kansas City Royals, and posted an ERA of 9.82 in the series.
One has to wonder what impact making the majority of your starts at AT&T Park has on your statistics. The home of the San Francisco Giants is cavernous, and is widely acknowledged as a pitchers park. According to ESPN, AT&T Park registered a league low 0.677 home run factor in 2014. Over the last four seasons, Vogelsong has allowed an average of 0.95 home runs per 9 innings. Working in Vogelsong’s favor is the fact that Angel Stadium is nearly as friendly to pitchers as AT&T Park. ESPN ranks Angel Stadium 23rd in the league with a 0.837 home run factor.
Ryan Vogelsong has made $5 million dollars annually in each of the past two seasons. Due to his age, Vogelsong will likely only draw one-year deals on the open market this offseason. It is said Vogelsong would be interested in returning to the Giants, and who could blame him after winning two World Series crowns in four seasons. It may be difficult to pry him away from Frisco, but the Angels could potentially land Vogelsong with a one-year deal worth $5-7 million dollars. This would be reasonable financially for the Angels, as it would give them a tiny bit of wiggle room under the luxury tax.
If I am Angels general manager, Jerry Dipoto, I am very intrigued by the prospect of bringing, Ryan Vogelsong, on board in Anaheim. Vogelsong represents a low risk signing, and the finances could be very appealing. Vogelsong is a proven winner, and would bring some veteran leadership to a relatively young rotation. For the money, you will not find much more playoff experience.
The Angels pitching fell apart in the postseason in 2014, and signing Ryan Vogelsong could help out in a big way next October. I think Vogelsong would be a great addition to the Angels staff in 2015.