It took until the last day of the Winter Meetings, but David Stearns got back to slinging.
Claudio is in his first year of arbitration eligibility and is coming off somewhat of a disappointing season in which he finish with a 4.48 ERA in 68.1 innings in 66 appearances, although his 3.42 FIP says he was a bit unlucky.
It’s an opportunity to buy low on a pitcher who’s shown the ability to go more than one inning in relief before and has been very effective with a sidearm Mitch Stetter-esque left-handed delivery, with a career ERA+ of 147. His best year was 2017, when he had an ERA+ of 193 as he put up a 2.50 ERA in 82.2 innings across 70 appearances, even earning 11 saves.
He won’t strike many people out — his career K% is just 16.5%, and he’s averaged 6.16 strikeouts per 9 innings — but he doesn’t walk many or allow home runs. He’s allowed just 15 home runs in 208 career appearances. He’s had success by keeping the ball on the ground, which is typically a good idea when you play in Texas. His career groundball rate is 62.5%, which should play just as well at Miller Park. His ERA spiked this past year as a result of more of those balls sneaking through for base hits.
Trading a high draft pick for a middle reliever may seem out of character for Stearns, but with the departure of Joakim Soria and the non-tender of Dan Jennings and Xavier Cedeno, the team needed both a lefty and a middle innings guy. Claudio appears to check both boxes. He’ll also be under team control for three more seasons as a first-time arbitration-eligible pitcher, something that Stearns noted when he met with reporters after news of the trade broke.
Trade is official now. Here’s GM David Stearns on why the Brewers liked lefty reliever Alex Claudio: pic.twitter.com/KVqOzwjA0P— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 13, 2018
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference