Angels Sign Scott Downs

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s beat and blog writers have been having a go at GM Tony Reagins for his brazen hyperbole over the signing of Hisanori Takahashi:

I think I already made a huge splash with Takahashi. He adds a lot of value to your club.

If “splash” isn’t an overstatement, I’ll set myself on fire.

After missing out on Carl Crawford when the left fielder seemed like a perfect fit for a club that was looking to better fill out its lineup, the Angels instead landed left handed reliever Scott Downs at an incredibly reasonable $15 million over three years.  If Takahashi was a splash, then Downs is a . . . Cannonball, a far more politically correct nickname than The Syndrome, although less intimidating than Snakeface.

While the Angels haven’t exactly found a lot of success signing aged relievers out of Toronto to three year contracts . . . ahem, Justin Speier, ahem . . . Downs, a model of consistency over the past few seasons, figures to be one of the more reliable relievers available on the free agent market.

Considering that Joaquin Benoit, whose numbers couldn’t hold a candle to Downs’ even if they had hands, opened up the market by signing a three year $16.5 million deal with the Tigers, the Downs deal offers both parties exactly for what they’re looking.

The Angels avoid overpaying for a big name closer like Rafael Soriano by adding Downs and Takahashi to a bullpen that already includes Jordan Walden, the team’s best pitching prospect, and Kevin Jepsen, who appeared 122 games over the last two seasons.  Meanwhile, Downs gets the multi-year contract he was looking for at a raise from the $4 million he made last year with the Blue Jays.

Let’s play the ol’ Pitcher A vs. Pitcher B game with numbers from 2007-2010:

Pitcher A: 2.36 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 3.46 xFIP
Pitcher B: 2.61 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.60 xFIP

It would be kind of pointless if Pitcher A and B weren’t Scott Downs and Rafael Soriano, and while my arguments may be of the circular or straw man variety, they’re seldom pointless.

For Toronto, they receive a supplemental draft pick in addition to the Angels’ second rounder, because Los Angeles’ first round pick is still low enough to be protected.  However, if the Angels were to sign Adrian Beltre, the Jays would receive their third round pick while the second rounder goes to Boston because of Beltre’s higher free agent ranking.

Downs, who was somewhat taken for granted by fans in Toronto, will definitely be missed, but take a look at the numbers of two Blue Jays pitchers over the last two years:

Pitcher A: 121.1 IP, 8.98 K/9, 3.12 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 2.3 WAR.
Pitcher B: 108 IP, 7.58 K/9, 2.83 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 2.2 WAR.

Pitcher B is Downs and Pitcher A is Jason Frasor, one of the few eligible free agents to accept their team’s offer of arbitration.  Barring a bullpen acquisition like Jesse Crain, the Jays will rely on Frasor to continue his under the radar success and hope that longtime southpaw ginger prospect David Purcey can pick up where he left off last season with his better than average ERA, WHIP and FIP.