The Guardians are in agreement with right-hander Jaime Barria on a minor league contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (on X). The former Angels hurler elected free agency after clearing outright waivers last month.
Until that point, Barria had spent his entire career with the Halos. He signed out of Panama in 2013 and reached the big leagues five seasons later. Barria debuted as a 21-year-old and turned in a strong rookie season, working to a 3.41 ERA over 26 starts.
While he hasn’t recaptured that level of success, Barria has shouldered a decent number of innings in a swing role over the past few seasons. The results have been inconsistent. He allowed an ERA of 4.61 or worse in each of 2019, ’21 and this year. Barria fared better in a limited sample during the shortened season and had a strong 2.61 mark over 79 1/3 relief innings in 2022.
The Halos have mostly deployed him in lower-leverage situations. Barria doesn’t throw especially hard or miss many bats. He has struck out a below-average 17.1% of batters faced in each of the past two seasons. A spike in home runs dramatically flipped the script on his run prevention this year. Barria was tagged for 5.68 earned runs per nine in 82 1/3 frames spanning 34 appearances (including six starts).
The 27-year-old owns a 4.75 ERA in 333 1/3 big league innings over the last five years. He has a modest 17.8% strikeout percentage but has kept his walks to a solid 7.2% clip. He’ll presumably get a look in big league Spring Training and can compete for a long relief role with the ability to step into the rotation as needed. Barria is out of minor league options, so if he cracks the MLB roster at any point, he’d need to remain with the big league club or be designated for assignment. He has a little over four years of MLB service. If he carves out a role on the major league staff, Cleveland could retain him via arbitration for at least one additional season.