Just when you start to think you’ve figured Billy Eppler out, he hits you with a Steph Curry-esque crossover. The deadline to tender arbitration eligible players a contract is tonight at 7 p.m. ET and Eppler started off with a bang by making the shocking, and perplexing move, to non-tender reliever Blake Parker in lieu of paying him an estimated $3.1 million.
Source: Angels to non-tender Blake Parker.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 1, 2018
Parker was plucked up off of waivers from the New York Yankees two years and has contributed a combined 2.90 ERA across 133 1⁄3 innings pitched. Peeling back some of the layers, Parker was not able to repeat a stellar 2017 and seemed to lose faith from his skipper, Mike Scioscia, as the year went on. While he was absolutely brilliant the previous year, there were warning signs of future complications with Parker. An inflated HR/9 of 1.63 is dangerous territory for any pitcher let alone a reliever. The K/9 rate fell by 2 strikeouts an inning exactly, his FIP and xFIP gave a more ominous indication than his 3.26 ERA did (4.40 and 4.04 in each fielding independent metric), and his swinging strike rate plummeted as well by over 3%.
While 2018 wasn’t Parker’s greatest season, it’s still a bit peculiar why the Angels would non-tender him when he had a reasonably cost-efficient salary, the estimated $3.1 million, in line and a lack of experienced options behind him on the depth chart. The best, and most likely guess, is that Eppler feels he can better utilize that $3.1 million elsewhere and may not be a believer in Parker bouncing back to his 2017-version, but this leaves a hole on the roster that already had some murky outlooks going forward in 2019.
And now, we wait to see the fates of the other arbitration eligible players on the roster (Matt Shoemaker, JC Ramirez, and Nick Tropeano all seem like possibilities).
Update: Angels Non-Tender Matt Shoemaker
The, ahem, “surprising” moves keep on coming. The club is non-tendering an organizational soldier and fan favorite, Matt Shoemaker.
Shoemaker was an undrafted free agent and surprise superstar for the Angels during their 2014 run into the playoffs. While Shoemaker wasn’t able to repeat the success he had in 2014, he had pitched admirably when he was able to stay on the field. The problem? Staying on the field.
Shoemaker made a combined 21 starts the last two seasons battling a nagging forearm injury they couldn’t seem to solve until earlier this year. It proved to be too late seeing as the front office has seemingly lost faith in “The Cobbler”.
Shoemaker was due to make an estimated $4.3 million this year and while that may seem a bit high for someone who has rarely pitched the last few years, for a team so short on starting pitching, it is a bit worrisome to see them shed yet another starting pitcher.
From all the Angels fans, we salute you, Matt. 2014 was a magical season and you were a lone bright spot in the ALDS against the Royals. To go from undrafted to being a legitimate big leaguer is about as cool of a story that you’ll hear. Good luck on your next endeavors and maybe you can come back at reduced rate (please?).
To sign off, the Angels tendered contracts to their remaining arbitration eligible players: Cam Bedrosian, Jose Alvarez, Hansel Robles, JC Ramirez, Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, and newly acquired Tommy La Stella.