Another key member of the Indians' bullpen, viewed as one of baseball’s best for several years, officially won’t be returning to the fold in 2019.
Cody Allen has agreed to a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels that includes $2.5 million in incentives and is pending a physical, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The return on investment with that deal will be determined by which Allen shows up to spring training. If it’s the 2013-2017 Allen, it’ll be a steal against the market value. Allen was the model of consistency for five seasons at or near the back end of the Indians’ bullpen. He posted five consecutive seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA and a FIP no higher than 3.31 while pitching between 67 1/3 and 70 1/3 innings each year. His K/9 rate only fluctuated between 11.5 and 12.9 in that time.
For five years, Allen’s fastball-curveball combination was pure and true, as he operated as perhaps one of the more underrated relievers in baseball. He also saved 120 games in that five-year span and didn’t allow an earned run during the Indians’ 2016 run to the World Series.
The 2018 Allen was another story. He posted career highs (in the wrong direction) nearly across the board, including ERA (4.70), FIP (4.56), K/9 (10.7), BB/9 (4.4) and HR/9 (1.5). He did make a key delivery adjustment near the end of August that briefly posted some positive results, but it also coincided with a continued decrease in his fastball velocity. According to BrooksBaseball.net, Allen’s velocity has been a steady decline since 2014, when it topped out at 96.43 mph. In 2018, it averaged 94.2 mph, and progressively slowed down as the regular season wore on — 94.94 in May to 93.37 in September.
Rosenthal’s report included that Allen was looking for an opportunity to close games, something that might not have happened in Cleveland with All-Star Brad Hand in the mix.
The Indians have yet to reallocate any of the savings from their three major deals earlier this offseason back into the outfield or bullpen, the club’s two biggest needs. As currently constructed, the Indians would be betting on larger contributions from a selection of Adam Cimber, Dan Otero, A.J. Cole, Nick Goody, Jon Edwards, Tyler Olson, Neil Ramirez, Ben Taylor and a handful of nonroster invitees, along with the potential contributions from Danny Salazar or a few others who are expected to be lengthened out as starting pitchers this spring but could transition to the bullpen.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.