The Brewers designated right-hander Matt Bush and left-hander Thomas Pannone for assignment. In corresponding moves, the team selected the contract of left-hander Clayton Andrews from Triple-A Nashville, and also called up right-hander J.B. Bukauskas from Triple-A. Milwaukee now has 39 of 40 spots filled on its 40-man roster.
Acquired from the Rangers at last year’s trade deadline, Bush’s numbers dropped off after the deal, in large part to an increase in home runs. Bush posted a 2.95 ERA over 36 2/3 innings with Texas while allowing five big flies, yet he gave up six homers in 23 innings with the Brew Crew, boosting his ERA to 4.30.
Bush and the Brewers agreed to a $1.85MM arbitration-avoiding salary for 2023, but the righty has struggled to both stay healthy and deliver consistent results out of Milwaukee’s bullpen. He missed just shy of two months due to tendinitis in his right rotator cuff, and posted a 9.58 ERA in 10 1/3 innings. Yesterday’s 8-7 loss to the Pirates saw Bush allow three runs in the ninth inning, including Carlos Santana’s two-run walkoff homer.
If another team claimed Bush on DFA waivers, it will become responsible for the roughly $925K still owed to the right-hander over the course of the season. It seems likely that Bush will clear waivers, therefore putting the Brewers on the hook for the remaining salary while a new club would owe Bush just the prorated portion of a Major League salary. If Bush clears waivers and is then outrighted to Triple-A Nashville, Bush can decline that outright assignment in favor of free agency, because he has been outrighted in the past.
Pannone also has this option, as he was outrighted off the Blue Jays’ roster back in 2020. The southpaw left Toronto’s organization after that season, and he bounced around to the Red Sox, Angels, and the KBO League’s Kia Tigers before landing in Milwaukee on a minors deal this past winter. The Brewers selected Pannone’s contract just three days ago, and his one appearance (also in yesterday’s 8-7 loss to Pittsburgh) marked Pannone’s first Major League game since the 2019 season.
Andrews was a 17th-round pick for the Brewers in the 2018 draft, and the 26-year-old is now close to making his MLB debut. His career was essentially put on hold for the better part of three years due to first the canceled 2020 minor league season, and then a Tommy John surgery that limited Andrews to 19 2/3 total innings in 2021-22. However, he has been healthy and effective at Nashville this year, with a 1.65 ERA and 31.8% strikeout rate over 32 2/3 innings of work. A 12.4% walk rate is cause for concern, as Andrews’ control has been something of an issue even prior to 2020.
If Andrews can limit the walks, he might get a longer-term opportunity in a Milwaukee bullpen that is short on left-handed pitching. Hoby Milner is the only other southpaw in the relief corps, though Justin Wilson (who underwent Tommy John surgery last year) just started a rehab assignment and might be available by late July or early August.