There are players in Major League Baseball who have earned long leashes. They can struggle to begin any given season and not worry at all about losing their spot either because the team believes they can turn it around or because the player is making too much money to sit on the bench.
A player like Mike Trout, for example, can hit .200 in the month of April and not worry one bit about his role. He's going to continue to hit second or third just about every day when healthy and be counted on to produce in a big way. The Angels will think that eventually he'll break out of his slump (as he always does).
On the flip side, there are players scratching and clawing their way trying to stick around either in their roles or on the roster in general. These three Los Angeles Angels players should have an opportunity to play important roles but should have very short leashes.
1) Carlos Estevez
Carlos Estevez was one of the best closers in all of baseball in the first half of this past season, posting a 1.80 ERA in 36 appearances and converting a franchise record 21 saves without blowing a single opportunity. He was an all-star and more importantly, kept the Angels competitive in the first half.
The second half wound up being a completely different story for Estevez who posted a 6.59 ERA in 27 appearances, blew four saves in his 14 attempts, and just looked completely burnt out. Perhaps Estevez was overused in the first half and that's why he collapsed down the stretch, but it was abundantly clear that this was not the same guy the Angels had to begin the season.
Entering the 2024 season, the question of whether Estevez should still be the team's closer is a very real one. Since the team didn't sign an experienced closer this offseason he likely will be, but with Robert Stephenson and Matt Moore joining the fold, his leash cannot be long. Even youngsters like Jose Soriano and Ben Joyce who could fit seamlessly into the ninth inning with their stuff might deserve some looks.
Estevez did enough to earn some save chances, but if he gets off to a rough start, moving him out of the closer's role is a no-brainer. The Angels have too many other options to turn to for them to give Estevez a longer leash than he deserves.