Home Gym – Raisel Iglesias finds new home with Angels
After six productive seasons with the Reds, including four years as the club’s full-time closer, Raisel Iglesias admitted he didn’t expect to be traded this offseason despite heading into the last year of his contract.
But with Cincinnati looking to trim payroll, Iglesias was dealt to the Angels on Dec. 7 for reliever Noé Ramirez and Minor League infielder Leonardo Rivas. It filled a huge need for the Angels, who were looking for a new closer after non-tendering Hansel Robles, and Iglesias couldn’t be happier about his opportunity to close with a new club.
“I was surprised, at first,” Iglesias said through an interpreter via Zoom on Thursday. “But once they called, and I talked to my agent, I was excited about it. And I didn’t expect to feel comfortable as fast as I did after spending so much time with one organization and coming to a new one. I was nervous to fit in with the team, but I’ve been extremely comfortable since I’ve been here.”
Iglesias averaged 31 saves a season to go with a 2.97 ERA from 2017-19 before posting a 2.74 ERA and eight saves in the shortened 2020 season. The 31-year-old is making $9.125 million this season, which is why the Reds decided to deal him.
The Angels couldn’t believe that a closer of Iglesias’ quality was available via trade, and Angels manager Joe Maddon is excited to have a legitimate weapon at his disposal in the backend of his bullpen this season. Iglesias is one of only five closers with at least 100 saves over the past five years, joining Edwin Díaz, Kenley Jansen, Brad Hand and Alex Colomé. And he has the fewest blown saves of anyone in that group over that span.
“Stuff-wise, it’s premium-closer stuff,” Maddon said. “And on top of that, he has a durable arm. He’s kind of a throwback because he’s always available for one-plus innings. I’m not saying I’m always going to do that, but I’ve seen him do it in the past. Once he gets on a roll, hitters do not like going up there.”
As Maddon noted, Iglesias has been among the league leaders in games pitched and games finished, including finishing 57 games in both ’17 and ’18 and leading the National League by finishing 55 games in ’19. He’s also open to going multiple innings, as he recorded more than three outs six times in 22 appearances in ’20 and 11 times out of 68 appearances in ’19.
The Angels will use Iglesias for multiple innings when the right situations arise, but Maddon said not to expect him to come in for non-closing roles such as shutting down a rally in the seventh inning. Maddon will instead count on his primary setup relievers to get out of early jams and will use Iglesias almost exclusively in save situations.
Iglesias said he’ll be ready for whatever comes his way, especially getting called on to get more than three outs, as it’s something he’s become accustomed to over his career.
“Mentally, I always prepare myself like I’m gonna go more than three outs,” Iglesias said. “From all my workout routines, I go out there with a starter mentality. It’s always in the back of my mind.”
Iglesias added he simply embraces the closer role and loves the adrenaline rush that comes with closing out a victory in the ninth. He believes the Angels are built to contend, which will give him plenty of chances to close out games this year.
“It’s the most important three outs out of the game,” Iglesias said. “I take pride in going in there for those last three outs with my main focus on closing that game.”
Home Gym – Raisel Iglesias finds new home with Angels ]
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