Hansel Robles, who served as the Angels' closer in 2019 before a loss of velocity and a flurry of home runs cost him the job in 2020, will attempt to revive his career in the Twins' bullpen.
Robles became the first major league free agent signing of the offseason for Minnesota, agreeing to a one-year free agent contract worth $2 million on Tuesday.
The Twins have subtracted four righthanded relievers since the 2020 season ended. Robles represents the first step in replenishing their bullpen for 2021, though it likely hinges upon the 30-year-old Dominican recovering some of the fastball velocity he lost during the pandemic-shortened season.
Robles' fastball averaged 97.3 mph during his stint as Angels closer in 2019, but dipped to 95.7 during his disastrous 2020. Robles, using a changeup more frequently to compensate, allowed 19 hits, including four home runs, and 10 walks in just 16⅔ innings, and his 10.26 ERA made it easy for Los Angeles to non-tender him this offseason.
Robles is a six-year major league veteran who spent his first three seasons with the Mets, pitching in the World Series against Kansas City in 2015. He was claimed off waivers by the Angels in 2018, and looked like a real find for a season and a half, posting a 2.64 ERA in 109 innings and earning 25 saves in 30 opportunities.
But he wasn't the same in the unusual 2020 season, allowing runs in half of his 16 appearances.
"He's just off," Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters in August. "You've all noticed there's been a decline in velocity. We have to figure that out. On top of that, it's a confidence issue, too."
In 313 games with the Mets and Angels, Robles was 24-18 with a 2.91 ERA and 360 strikeouts in 332⅔ innings.
The Twins, trying to replace Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler and Trevor May from one of their best bullpens in years, have a reputation under pitching coach Wes Johnson for helping to develop relievers who have lost their effectiveness.