The Brewers have agreed to a minor league contract with left-handed reliever Alex Claudio, tweets Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The MDR Sports Management client will be invited to Major League Spring Training.
It’s a reunion between the Brewers and Claudio, who spent the 2019-20 seasons pitching out of manager Craig Counsell’s bullpen. The now-30-year-old southpaw (31 later this month) pitched to a 4.11 ERA with a 17% strikeout rate, 8.6% walk rate and 54.9% ground-ball rate in 81 innings during that time but stumbled to a 5.51 ERA in 32 2/3 frames with the Angels in 2021. Claudio spent the 2022 season with the Mets, tossing 3 1/3 shutout innings at the MLB level but otherwise pitching the remainder of the season in Triple-A Syracuse. The veteran lefty was effective in that hitter-friendly setting, logging a 3.91 ERA in 48 1/3 innings.
Overall, Claudio has spent parts of nine seasons in the big leagues and tallied more than six years of MLB service time. He sports a lifetime 3.60 ERA in 347 2/3 innings, and while his 17% strikeout rate is well south of the league average, his 6.5% walk rate and, in particular, his 59.8% ground-ball rate are both demonstrably better than that of the average MLB hurler.
The three-batter minimum has hurt pitchers of Claudio’s ilk, as he carries pronounced platoon splits that make him an unpalatable option against right-handed opponents. Lefties have flailed away at just a .210/.255/.335 pace against Claudio over the years, but right-handed opponents have tattooed him to the tune of a .302/.357/.440 batting line.
As things stand, Hoby Milner is the only left-handed bullpen option on the Brewers’ 40-man roster — assuming prospect Ethan Small continues to work as a starting pitcher in the upper minors. Eric Lauer and Aaron Ashby, the only other two lefties on the roster, are both ticketed for rotation work next year. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Brewers bring in some more veterans in this mold on non-roster deals between now and Spring Training. It’s also possible that Milwaukee could make a late play to add a more established southpaw to pair with Milner. Andrew Chafin, Matt Moore, Zack Britton and Brad Hand all remain unsigned in free agency, and the trade market of course presents further options.