6) LA Angels free agent target to pursue: Rafael Montero
Rafael Montero was at one point a top pitching prospect in baseball. Unfortunately, the starting rotation wasn't the home for him, but Montero has developed into an elite reliever.
Montero was pretty good with the Rangers in 2019 and 2020 but struggled mightily splitting time with the Mariners and Astros last season, posting a 6.39 ERA in 44 appearances.
Because of his struggles, he signed a one-year $2.75 million dollar deal to remain in Houston.
The Astros turned Montero into their primary set-up man for Ryan Pressly. He excelled in that role, going 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 71 appearances.
While Pressly was on the injured list or unavailable, Montero was asked to close. He converted 14 of 16 save opportunities on the season. If the Angels want him to serve as their closer I'd think he'd do just fine in that role.
Montero struck out 73 batters in 68.1 innings of work (9.6 K/9) while allowing just three home runs (0.4 HR/9).
Montero ranked in the 91st percentile in average exit velocity, the 88th percentile in hard-hit rate, and the 99th percentile in barrel rate according to baseball savant.
He's another example of a pitcher who limits hard contact while still striking out over nine batters per nine.
Montero's 3.0 BB/9 is a little high but the makings are there for him to repeat if not top the season he just had.
In Montero's first-ever postseason he's allowed just one run in nine innings allowing just four hits and striking out nine. The pressure of October baseball hasn't seemed to get to him.
At 32 years old I'd feel comfortable with the Angels giving this right-hander a two-year deal. Something similar to the two-year $17 million dollars guaranteed that Aaron Loup got makes a lot of sense to me.