In an effort to bolster their bullpen, the Brewers have agreed to a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop, reports Mike Vassallo.
Milwaukee has dismantled their bullpen in recent weeks with players like Kameron Loe, Francisco Rodriguez, Manny Parra, and Jose Veras leaving the team in various ways. In fact, six of the top eight relievers in terms if appearances for the Brewers in 2012 are no longer with the team.
The 29-year-old Badenhop spent his first four seasons with the Florida Marlins before having his best career season in Tampa last year. With the Marlins, Badenhop had a 4.34 ERA in 151 games. In 2012 with the Rays, Badenhop posted a 3.03 ERA while pitching in a career-high 66 games. He has maintained close to a mid-3.00s FIP most of his career.
In return, the Brewers are sending minor league outfielder Raul Mondesi, Jr. to Tampa Bay. Mondesi has been in the Brewers organization for three years, but has yet to play above rookie ball. He holds a career .243/.305/.371 batting line and is a non-prospect at this point. He is the son of one-time all-star Raul Mondesi.
The move is likely just a salary dump by the Rays. Badenhop will be going to his third year of arbitration this offseason and made just over $1 million in 2012. He still has two years of team-control as he was a super two player. The Rays already have a great bullpen and could afford to part with one of their relievers.
Badenhop isn't a strikeout pitcher like it seems the Brewers have mostly been targeting this offseason. He has a career 6.67 K/9 and had a 6.06 K/9 last year. However, he cut his walk rate nearly in half in 2012, with just a 1.73 BB/9. Badenhop has also been excellent at not allowing many home runs.
Badenhop is, as one might imagine, better against righties than lefties. Over his career, right-handers have hit for a .655 OPS against him while southpaws have a .772 OPS. He might not make a great first impression, either. He allows hitters to post a .748 OPS and has a 4.51 ERA over the first halves of seasons over his career. He finishes strong, though, with a .644 opponent OPS and 3.51 ERA in the second half. Both of those trends continued in 2012.
Badenhop's sinker is his most oft-used pitch. It accounts for 75 percent of his pitch selection. He is not a particularly hard thrower, staying around 89 MPH and topping out in the low 90s. He'll also work in an 80 MPH slider and 84 MPH splitter. The slider has easily been his most valuable pitch, according to fangraphs. Badenhop is a heavy ground ball pitcher, with 53% of batted balls against him being on the ground.
This is good deal for the Brewers. They are getting a reliever who could be one of the best in their bullpen next season and gave up absolutely nothing of substance. For a team whose bullpen is in such disarray, Badenhop will likely be a valuable piece. If Badenhop can maintain a low walk rate, he could very well be the new Kameron Loe in the Brewers bullpen.