After an offseason that saw the LA Angels only sign one free agent reliever so far, Billy Eppler has made another move, signing reliever Daniel Hudson to a minor league contract.
Perhaps the LA Angels’ biggest uncertainty, their bullpen saw limited improvement this winter. The team did sign Cody Allen to be their closer, while they traded Jose Alvarez for Luis Garcia (a reliever-for-reliever swap with a lot of risk/reward).
The addition of Daniel Hudson is the opposite of the Alvarez-Garcia swap, as Hudson is a low-risk contract with potential to be a valuable piece in the Angels’ bullpen. Last season he pitched 40 games (one start) for the Dodgers, and found himself sitting with a 4.11 ERA and underwhelming advanced statistics.
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However, the Angels, somehow, have shown they can help veteran relievers be their best versions in years past. Last year, the Angels claimed Hansel Robles after the Mets placed him on waivers following an ERA north of five in 16 games. Once he was apart of the Angels’ bullpen, he owned a 2.97 ERA in 37 games, which would have been the best season of his career, largely due to the Angels encouraging the use of his phenomenal changeup.
While Hudson is a different case given he has undergone Tommy John surgery twice in his career, there is hope he can bounce back in 2019. His fastball velocity has averaged 95-96 in the past two seasons, and the pitch a lot of life on the end of it, leading to an impressive swinging strike rate of 12.8%.
What probably caught Billy Eppler’s eye was Hudson’s spin rate, as his pitches all still have a ton of life even as he turns 32 a month from now. Eppler has put a large focus on velocity and spin rate over the past few years, and Hudson still fits the mold the Angels are looking for.
While Hudson was not even given a major-league contract, he seems like a good bet to make the roster. The financial side of things gives Hudson $1.5 million dollars if he does make the team, while he can earn another $1.5 million in performance bonuses. While it may seem like Hudson isn’t anything to get excited about for Angels’ fans, he may just prove to be extremely valuable in 2019.