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.

Comments (9)

  1. David Purcey will justify my love.

  2. So that means one of:

    1) AA didn’t know all it would take to keep Downs was a raise of $1 million a year over three years,

    2) Downs made it known he would likely move on regardless

    3) AA thinks he’d be better off to spend that money (and more) on a proven closer and he’ll take the picks as a bonus. Given that he basically has the same guy in Frasor already.

    Right?

  3. I think you’re undervaluing the picks. They’re not just the bonus. They’re likely the reason that the Jays would be willing to let Downs go.

  4. I would assume AA knew what it would take to keep Downs. I just think he felt there was more value in the picks for a rebuilding team than a 34 year old set-up man. (37 when his contract is up). I dont see AA getting his hands on anythign special for the back end of the rotation. I truly believe he is taking the 1 step back, for two steps forward approah to 2011. I definatly see him signing a guy or two, but not on anyone that would blow us away.

    The bullpen isn’t in that bad of shape. As mentioned above Percy has shown some promise. If he progresses I think he could easily step right into the role Downs occupied. Frasor scares me, but if Janssen can return to his pre surgury form, and Camp is as good as he was I see the back end being respectable.

  5. Also, that Anthopoulos doesn’t see value in signing a reliever to a multi-year deal. I think the highest AA will go with a reliever is 2 years (not including options).

    I think AA will be offering 1 year deals to relievers, with possible options. If no one bites, he’ll remain status quo.

    While a bullpen of Frasor, Camp, Purcey, Carlson, Roenicke, Janssen and Rzepcynski (or whoever else gets the long man duties) is closerless, it does look pretty solid. Both Frasor and Purcey get good strikeout rates, so both could be given the role. However, I think that Johnny Farrell may just go with matchups and a closer by committee with Frasor getting the bulk of the duty.

  6. What if you can get Crain for the same as Downs signed with the Angels? Do you not take that?

  7. Downs will definitely be missed. Fans really do take him for granted, but they’ll realize what he meant to the team if there isn’t a valid replacement. I think Purcey definitely could do it, but if he can’t there could be a lot of frustrating 8th innings for Jays’ fans in 2011.

  8. I would happily welcome Jesse to the birds nest at the same contract Downs signed. dude is only 29 and three years at 5mil per is not to shabby. esp considering we are also receiving 2 sup picks. Heres hoping the Angels do not sign Beltre and bump us to a third rounder.

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