June 16, 2024

Despite losing two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels are still making plays on the edges to stay competitive, even though they may be among the greatest losers of the free agency season. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, word leaked out on Friday that the 30-year-old relief pitcher Robert Stephenson had reached an agreement with the Angels.

The specifics of Stephenson’s deal with the Angels are not yet the subject of any credible reporting. However, @Jolly_Olive of Jomboy Media claims that Stephenson’s contract is worth $30 million spread over three years, plus an option. The details of the option, including whether it is player, club, mutual, or vesting, are still unknown.

Like many relievers before him, Robert Stephenson started out in the Cincinnati Reds system as a starter. The Reds shifted Stephenson to the bullpen, where he started to turn things around for his career, following three seasons of mediocre to horrendous production as a starter.

However, Stephenson had a few difficult seasons recently. With the Pittsburgh Pirates, he had a difficult start to the 2023 season, throwing to a 5.14 ERA in 18 bullpen appearances (14 innings pitched). After being bought inexpensive by the Tampa Bay Rays, Stephenson turned things around fast, pitching 38.1 innings with a 2.35 ERA on much-improved peripherals.

Stephenson’s walk rate significantly decreased (1.88 per nine innings from 5.14 during his tenure with the Pirates) while his strikeout rate rose to 14.88 K/9 with the Rays. That is a surefire way to succeed. Though it’s unclear if Stephenson is a result of the Rays’ excellent pitching coaching staff or if he has really learned how to maximise his potential, his numbers with the Rays are career-bests.

The Angels will be hoping that Robert Stephenson, who they added to an ok bullpen, keeps up the kind of play that made him a star when he was with the Rays, as he will definitely be worth his salary if he does. Stephenson may also compete with Carlos Estevez for the closer position with the Angels.

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