CLEVELAND, Ohio — Free agent closer Cody Allen, the all-time leader in saves for the Cleveland Indians with 149, is close to signing a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels according to a report by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Allen’s deal, pending a physical, is believed to be worth about $8.5 million plus $2.5 million in incentives.
Allen, 30, becomes the sixth ex-Indians player to move on from the 2018 roster including the departures of free agents Michael Brantley, Andrew Miller, Josh Donaldson, Lonnie Chisenhall and Rajai Davis. Reliever James Hoyt signed a minor league deal to stay with the organization in December.
Los Angeles will reportedly give Allen an opportunity to close games, which could account for Allen’s willingness to sign for less money up front. With Blake Parker signing in Minnesota, Kenyan Middleton’s six saves in 2018 were the most by a remaining pitcher on the Angels roster. Last year, Allen signed a one-year contract to avoid arbitration with the Indians for $10.57 million.
In his final season with Cleveland, Allen appeared in 70 games and collected 27 saves in 32 chances. He finished with a career-worst 4.70 ERA and 80 strikeouts, the fewest in his career for a full season, while giving up a career-worst 11 home runs. Prior to an up-and-down 2018, Allen had been a workhorse for the Indians, averaging at least 66 innings per season and a sub-3.00 ERA.
Last year, Allen’s velocity dipped slightly and hitters began making more contact on pitches out of the strike zone (56.9 percent) and his swinging strike rate dipped to 12.7 percent.
Manager Terry Francona said he did not think Allen’s pending free agency had an impact on his performance in the second half of the 2018 season, but admitted that it’s human nature for players to think about it.
“I don’t ever remember seeing him out of sorts,” Francona said in October after the Indians lost to Houston in the American League Division Series.
“I think Cody was one of the guys that we always look to. He cares about the right things. He knows the difference between right and wrong and he’s a pretty solid team guy. I think it’s human nature that you think about those things. I don’t think it got him out of whack.”
Acquired by Cleveland in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft out of High Point University in North Carolina, Allen made his big league debut the following July against Baltimore. On May 12, 2013, Allen struck out Detroit’s Matt Tuiasosopo in the bottom of the 10th inning to preserve a 4-3 Indians win and earn his first career save. He settled into the closer role over the next six seasons, posting at least 30 saves and no more than four blown saves for three straight years beginning in 2015.
Allen became the Tribe’s all-time saves leader when he closed out a 3-2 win at Kansas City on July 4. Later that month, the Indians traded top prospect Francisco Mejia to San Diego for All-Star closer Brad Hand and righty set-up man Adam Cimber. Allen finished the game in 12 of his next 24 appearances, including six saves, while Hand gradually took over the closer role.
Allen retired new Indians first baseman Jake Bauers on a fly ball to center field in a 2-0 victory on Sept. 11 for his 149th and final save in an Indians uniform.