The second major pitching acquisition of the offseason for the Angels came on Monday afternoon, as the club announced that they signed free-agent reliever Aaron Loup to a two-year deal worth $17 million with a $7.5 million club option for 2024.
Loup comes over to Anaheim from the Mets, where he enjoyed a career year after signing a one-year deal with them last offseason. The 33-year-old lefty appeared in 65 games for New York in 2021, posting a league-leading 0.95 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 57 strikeouts in 56.2 innings pitched. Loup allowed just one home run and six total extra-base hits across the whole season, and opposing batters hit just .192 against him on the year.
Loup’s success last year came primarily due to his ability to avoid hard contact against him, as he was tied for the league lead for the fewest barrels allowed (3) among all relievers. His arsenal on the mound mainly centers around his sinker, which was the third best among bullpen pitchers by Statcast’s Run Value, and he’ll also feature a cutter, changeup and curveball that all got good-to-great results of their own.
Free agent relievers, by Stuff+, which focuses only on movement, velo & spin:— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) November 22, 2021
1) Aaron Loup (Angels just signed) (121)
2) Raisel Iglesias
3) Jimmy Nelson
4) Collin McHugh
5) Daniel Hudson
6) Serigo Romo
7) Heath Hembree
8) Kendall Graveman
9) Adam Ottavino
10) Corey Knebel (110)
The signing of Loup marks the Angels’ first move of what will likely be many in an attempt to fix a bullpen that once again ranked in the bottom third in the league in most major pitching statistics. Loup joins Mike Mayers, Austin Warren and José Quijada as guys who figure to play a significant role in next year’s group, with free-agent closer Raisel Iglesias also being an option if he chooses to return to Anaheim in 2022.
Rather incredibly, Loup is the first free-agent pitcher that the Angels have given a multi-year contract to in almost eight years, with the last one being Joe Smith’s three-year, $15.75 million deal all the way back in November 2013. The Halos had given out just three such contracts in the last decade prior to Loup, those being Smith, Joe Blanton in December 2012 and C.J. Wilson in December 2011. The move leaves the Halos about $25 million shy of where their payroll ended up at the end of the 2021 season.
In order to make room for Loup in the 40-man roster, the Angels designated pitcher Hector Yan for assignment. Yan was ranked as the No. 19 prospect in the Angels’ farm system according to MLB Pipeline, but he struggled to the tune of a 5.25 ERA in 82.1 innings with High-A Tri City in 2021.