LA Angels confusingly bring in older and inconsistent reliever on Minor League deal

Aug 7, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Cesar Valdez, LA Angels
Aug 7, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Cesar Valdez, LA Angels / Daniel Kucin Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the LA Angels signed Cesar Valdez to a Minor League deal. This was a somewhat confusing move, as he's 37 years old and still not quite established himself as a quality player. Valdez had a solid year in 2020, but it was over a small sample size--only appearing in nine games.

Still, the Angels hope he gets back to that level--as he was terrific in posting a great 1.26 ERA and stellar 0.698 WHIP. He only gave up 4.4 hits per nine and didn't allow a single home run. The issue is the bigger picture when evaluating Valdez. In his career, he sports a 6.08 ERA and 1.595 WHIP.

He's allowed a wild 11.3 hits per nine frames in his career. He looked more like that pitcher after his strong 2020 as well. In 2021, he pitched in 39 games; recording a 5.87 ERA, a 1.652 WHIP, and allowed 12.1 hits per nine innings. Hopefully Valdez can return to 2020 form as he works in the Angels' farm system.

Cesar Valdez likely will not make the LA Angels' Opening Day roster.

After the LA Angels signed Archie Bradley and Ryan Tepera last week, Cesar Valdez's chances of being with the Big League club look very slim. This is a tough bullpen to be on these days. They have an elite closer (Raisel Iglesias), an elite set-up man (Aaron Loup), an outstanding middle reliever (Tepera), and a few more strong middle relievers such as Bradley, Mike Mayers, and Austin Warren.

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Valdez has pitched at a high level before. Therefore, he has the talent to get the job done. Nobody just 'loses' talent, and Valdez has shown that he can be successful in the past. The reality, however, is that there are too many good relievers on this team to take a chance on Valdez's inconsistencies come Opening Day. Valdez still has a chance, however, if injuries come up. And as Angels fans know, the injury bug can bite whenever it chooses to.