TODAY: The deal is official, and MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (X link) reports that Plesac signed a one-year contract worth $1MM in guaranteed money.
DECEMBER 30, 10:34pm: Murray reports that it’s a major league deal between the Angels and Plesac, though the specific terms of the contract are still not known.
10:14pm: The Angels are in agreement with right-hander Zach Plesac on a deal, according to a report from Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Robert Murray of FanSided first reported that a deal between the two sides was close.
Plesac, 29 next month, made just five starts for the Guardians last offseason before being demoted to Triple-A and eventually outrighted off the club’s 40-man roster in June. The right-hander posted a disastrous 7.59 ERA across 21 1/3 innings of work in those five contests, and his performance at the Triple-A level last season did little to inspire confidence: Plesac mustered just a 6.08 ERA with a 17.9% strikeout rate in 19 appearances at the level. While those brutal numbers surely make Plesac something of a surprising choice for any club to add to their pitching staff to those unfamiliar with the right-hander, it’s worth noting that Plesac had established himself as a solid middle-to-back of the rotation starter in the years prior to his disastrous 2023 campaign.
Initially drafted in the 12th round of the 2016 draft, Plesac made his big league debut as a 24-year-old back in 2019, when he made 19 starts in the majors for Cleveland. At the time, he had the look of a solid mid-rotation starter with a 3.81 ERA (126 ERA+) across 21 starts in his rookie season even as his 4.94 FIP and lackluster 18.5% strikeout rate both left much to be desired. Plesac then took a major leap forward during the shortened 2020 season. The right-hander posted an incredible 2.28 ERA that was 96% better than league average by measure of ERA+ and a strong 3.39 FIP.
During the truncated campaign, Plesac’s peripherals caught up to his performance as he struck out 27.7% of batters faced while walking just 2.9%. That strikeout-to-walk ratio placed Plesac between Brandon Woodruff and Clayton Kershaw for the 13th best figure among starters that year, while only Kyle Hendricks and Marco Gonzales allowed less free passes. The strong performance set him up to be a key cog in Cleveland’s rotation for years to come headed into the 2021 season.
Unfortunately for both the Guardians and Plesac, that future as a key piece of Cleveland’s pitching corps did…