The Brewers announced that left-hander Brent Suter has been claimed off waivers by the Rockies.
Suter, 33, has been with the Brewers for over a decade now, since they drafted him back in June of 2012. He made his MLB debut in 2016, serving in a swing role over his first few seasons, making starts but also coming out of the bullpen. He’s gradually been moving towards more bullpen work, with 2022 being his first full season working exclusively in relief.
He made 54 appearances on the year and threw 66 2/3 innings in total with a 3.78 ERA. However, his rate stats indicate he was possibly lucky to keep runs off the board at that rate. His strikeout rate topped out at 29.5% in 2020 before dropping to 22% last year and 19.5% this year. His walk rate also trended in the wrong direction, going from 3.9% to 7.7% to 8.1% in that timeframe. His ground ball rate was just over 50% in the previous two seasons but fell to 45% in 2022.
His .265 batting average on balls in play was a 35-point drop from 2021, which likely helped him keep that ERA down. That might not be entirely luck, since he did limit the damage opposing hitters did against him. His hard hit rate was in the 96th percentile and his average exit velocity was in the 95th. That ability to keep batters in check is surely appealing for a Rockies club that plays in the most hitter-friendly park in the league.
The Brewers had a huge arbitration class going into this winter, with Suter one of 18 players to qualify. Given the club’s history of budget-conscious decisions, it seemed likely that at least some of those players would end up moving off the roster in one way or another. Suter was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a salary of $3.1MM in his final year of eligibility. The deadline to tender contracts for arbitration-eligible players is tonight, but it seems Milwaukee wasn’t planning on tendering Suter and put him on waivers instead. The Rockies, based on this claim, are presumably comfortable with paying Suter in that range.
With Suter gone, the Brewers have Hoby Milner as their sole lefty in the bullpen, though starters like Aaron Ashby or Ethan Small could theoretically end up working in relief if they get bumped from the rotation. For the Rockies, they now have two southpaws, with Suter joining Lucas Gilbreath.