The Brewers have signed right-hander Marcus Walden to a minor league deal, per a team announcement. He has been assigned to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. (Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted about the deal shortly before the official announcement.)
Walden, 33, was a ninth round selection of the Blue Jays back in the 2007 draft but became something of a journeyman even before reaching the big leagues. He was claimed off waivers by the A’s, then released and joined the Atlantic League. He then signed a minor league deal with the Twins, followed by another with the Red Sox, with whom he would eventually make his MLB debut.
In 2018, he threw 14 2/3 innings out of their bullpen and return in 2019. That year, he threw 78 frames with an impressive 3.81 ERA, 23.2% strikeout rate, 9.8% walk rate and 53.5% ground ball rate. Unfortunately, things went sideways for him in 2020, as his ERA shot up to 9.45 in 13 1/3 innings. His grounder rate dropped to 40.4%, his strikeouts went down to 14.1% and his walks shot up 12.7%. That’s a very small sample size in a strange, shortened season, but it was enough for the club to designate him for assignment at the end of the year.
He spent 2021 in the minors for the Red Sox and Cubs, but has spent 2022 with the Gastonia Honey Hunters of the Atlantic League. He’s transitioned back to a rotation role, throwing 50 1/3 innings over nine starts. He’s racked up 34 Ks against just eight walks and put up a 2.86 ERA in that time.
It’s unknown if the Brewers intend for Walden to continue in a starter’s role now that he’s back from the wilderness, but it would make sense given that injuries have taken a toll on their rotation. Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff and Aaron Ashby are all on the IL at the moment, which has forced the club to cobble together a staff with backup options like minor league signee Jason Alexander and waiver claim Chi Chi Gonzalez. Adding Walden gives them an extra depth option with some MLB experience. Should he earn his way back onto the big league team, he still has a couple of option years remaining, allowing Milwaukee to shuttle him between Triple-A and the majors, if necessary.