The Brewers have selected the contract of veteran right-hander J.J. Hoover, according to a team press release. In corresponding moves to create 25-man and 40-man roster space, righty Brandon Woodruff was optioned to Triple-A and left-hander Tyler Webb was designated for assignment.
After a rough 2016 season, Hoover signed a minors contract with the Diamondbacks in January 2017 and ended up getting his career back on track with a decent year in the desert. Hoover posted a 3.92 ERA and 11.76 K/9 over 41 1/3 innings for the D’Backs, though his effectiveness was belied by some control problems (5.66 BB/9) and trouble keeping the ball in the park (15.2% home run rate). Batters did manage quite a bit of solid contact against Hoover (35.3% hard-hit ball rate), though the righty may have also had some bad luck in his results, as evidenced by a .367 BABIP and a 84.1% strand rate.
Hoover was projected by MLBTR to earn $1.6MM through the arbitration process last winter, but the D’Backs instead non-tendered him. The Brewers inked Hoover to a minor league deal in January that, since Hoover has now reached the big league roster, will pay the 30-year-old $1.1MM in guaranteed salary, plus another $1.65MM is available in incentives.
Hoover does have some closing experience dating back to his days with the Reds, and it’s possible he could snag a save opportunity or two as part of the closer committee the Brewers will employ with Corey Knebel on the disabled list. In the short term, however, Hoover’s arrival may just represent a need for a fresh arm, as Milwaukee’s bullpen ranks third in baseball with 36 2/3 innings pitched during this young season. Woodruff made two appearances out of the pen, though he also started last night’s game, allowing two runs in 3 2/3 innings of work. Junior Guerra may be the top candidate for a recall the next time the Brewers need a fifth starter, as the team continues to explore its options at the back end of the rotation.
Webb made his MLB debut last season, pitching eight innings for the Brew Crew over nine appearances and posting a 5.63 ERA. Webb has spent much of his career in the Yankees organization, minus a brief stint with the Pirates when they selected him in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft, but the left-hander was returned to New York prior to the season. The Brewers acquired Webb last summer in a trade that sent first baseman Garrett Cooper to the Yankees. Webb has worked as a reliever in all but five of his 167 career minor league games, posting a 3.64 ERA and a very strong 11.2 K/9 and 4.45 K/BB rate.