A fine year in 2022 and a lack of minor league options guaranteed Jose Quijada a spot in the Los Angeles Angels bullpen before Spring Training even started. He opened the season as a late-inning arm for Phil Nevin and was pitching at a level Angels fans hadn't ever seen from the southpaw.
Through his first eight appearances of this season, Quijada had thrown eight scoreless innings with eight strikeouts compared to just one walk. Quijada had always had command issues, so seeing him throw strikes consistently was a sight to behold.
Quijada racked up four saves and four holds in those appearances without blowing a save, and the Angels were 8-0 in games he had appeared in. He was untouchable. All was good for Quijada until a random blow-up against the Royals occurred as he allowed five runs and only recorded two outs in his first blown save of the season. Another rough outing against the Athletics five days later raised some concern.
It turns out, Quijada hurt his elbow and had to undergo Tommy John Surgery. This was a huge loss for an Angels team that had gotten off to a decent start mainly because of their late-game reliever trio of Quijada, Matt Moore, and Carlos Estevez. Quijada would of course miss the remainder of the regular season and will miss most, if not all of next season. The 27-year-old is eligible for his first year of arbitration this offseason. The question of whether or not the team should keep him around is a very real one.
Why the LA Angels should keep Jose Quijada
The Angels have had a miserable time developing pitching. Most of the relievers they've developed haven't amounted into much of anything. While Quijada hasn't been with the Angels his entire career, he's a guy who has developed into a very real reliever.
While the guy he was to start this season certainly isn't who Quijada is, there's clearly a lot of potential there. He throws hard from the left side with great secondary stuff. The question has always been command, but he had clearly improved on that front this season.
Quijada won't help much in 2024, but has two years of additional team control and can really help the Angels at a spot of relative weakness in those years. There're many reasons they should believe he'll be just fine after undergoing Tommy John.
Why the LA Angels would non-tender Jose Quijada
Jose Quijada really hasn't proven much in his five MLB seasons. He has a 4.89 ERA in 118 appearances and 108.2 innings pitched. While a big reason his career ERA is so high is because of some early-career struggles, he hasn't ever asserted himself to be a legitimate late-inning guy outside of this past April.
Keeping a guy who is this unproven on the 40-man roster this offseason not only limits who the Angels can add in free agency, it also means a guy they might want to protect in the Rule-5 Draft might be left unprotected.
Additionally, pitchers that undergo Tommy John Surgery often come back a little slowly. It takes a bit to regain velocity and command. Expecting Quijada to be a consistent arm for them in his first full season back doesn't feel very smart. It's more likely that he'll be back at 100% in 2026 when he's already in his final year of team control.
Quijada is a fine arm to have, and the Angels certainly would be keeping him around if he was healthy for the entire 2024 season. Is he worth keeping around knowing he's coming back from major surgery? There is certainly a debate to be had.