The Brewers announced on Tuesday that they have acquired left-hander Sam Freeman from the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Freeman, the Brewers have designated right-hander Ariel Pena for assignment.
Freeman, 28, had been designated for assignment himself by the Rangers last week when Texas acquired backup catcher Bryan Holaday from the Tigers. Texas originally acquired Freeman from the Cardinals (also, in exchange for cash) one year and one day prior to his DFA. The former 32nd-round draft pick spent a good portion of the 2015 season in the Rangers’ bullpen, tallying 38 1/3 innings with a 3.05 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 5.4 BB/9 and a 48.5 percent ground-ball rate. Freeman throws fairly hard for a left-hander, averaging 93.8 mph on his heater throughout his career.
Control has been a problem for Freeman throughout his big league career, though, as he’s averaged 4.9 walks per nine innings pitched. Beyond that, he has a bizarre platoon split, having held right-handed batters to a .181/.280/.233 batting line in 232 plate appearances while surrendering a .279/.397/.419 line to opposing lefties. That said, he’ll give the Brewers another left-handed option in the bullpen after injuries have placed both Will Smith and Sean Nolin on the disabled list.
As for Pena, the 26-year-old stood as the last remaining piece from the Brewers’ trade of Zack Greinke to the Angels back in 2012. Milwaukee acquired Pena, right-hander Johnny Hellweg and shortstop Jean Segura in exchange for Greinke, but all three are now out of the organization (though Segura, of course, brought right-hander Chase Anderson and prospect Isan Diaz to the club this winter, so the trade, like most, has had a trickle-down effect of sorts). Pena rated among Baseball America’s Top 30 Brewers prospects from 2012-14, but he never experienced much success in the upper minors and struggled in 2015 (his MLB debut season) and in his lone appearance of the 2016 campaign. All told, Pena has a 5.59 ERA in 29 big league innings, and while he’s managed to whiff 27 batters in that time, he’s also issued 16 walks and hit two batters.