Angels avoid arbitration with Frieri, Salas
Club has pair of remaining eligible players in Freese and Jepsen
ANAHEIM -- The Angels avoided arbitration with closer Ernesto Frieri and new reliever Fernando Salas on Friday, leaving third baseman David Freese and reliever Kevin Jepsen unsigned on the day both sides exchanged figures.
Frieri agreed to a 2014 salary of $3.8 million, while Salas got $870,000.
Freese, two years away from free agency, filed for $6 million and the Angels countered with $4.1 million. Jepsen, in his second of four arbitration years because he achieved Super Two status last season, filed for $1.625 million while the Angels offered $1.3 million.
Arbitration hearings are scheduled between Feb. 1-21, but the two sides can continue to negotiate leading up to the date of the hearing, and the Angels plan to take full advantage of that. The last time they actually got to a hearing was 2011, when they "beat" Jered Weaver -- and then signed the ace right-hander to a five-year, $85 million extension six months later.
Freese, projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to make $4.4 million in arbitration, seeks nearly double the $3.15 million he made last year, even though his numbers dipped. Freese's slash line went from .293/.372/.467 in 2012 to .262/.340/.381 in '13, and he posted only a .526 OPS in the Cardinals' run to the World Series.
Jepsen made $1,181,250 following a 2012 season in which he posted a 3.02 ERA in 49 appearances. Last year, though, the 29-year-old right-hander had a 4.50 ERA in 45 games before undergoing a season-ending appendectomy in late August.
Frieri, acquired from the Padres in May 2012, has compiled the 12th-most saves in the Majors from 2012-13 (60). During that time, he's converted 89.6 percent of his save chances, posted a 3.07 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, and struck out 13.1 batters per nine innings.
Last year, the 28-year-old hard-throwing right-hander had a 3.80 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a 3.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while converting 37 of his 41 save chances.
Acquired alongside Freese in the deal that sent center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals in November, Salas split time between Triple-A and the Majors last year, posting a 4.50 ERA in 27 games for the Cardinals and a 1.90 ERA and 12 saves for the Memphis Redbirds.
From 2011-12, the 28-year-old right-hander made a combined 133 appearances in the big leagues while posting a 3.16 ERA. This spring, Salas will compete for one of the Angels' final bullpen spots.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.