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Brewers acquire Alex Claudio from Rangers

The Brewers buy low on Claudio, who continued to dominate lefties even during a down season in 2018.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers have acquired left-handed pitcher Alex Claudio from the Rangers in exchange for a Competitive Balance Round A pick in next year’s draft, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported on Thursday:

Claudio, 26, had a down 2018 season, but up until then he had been regarded as one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. Over 66 appearances (68.1 innings) this year, he posted a 4.48 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP with 41 strikeouts and 13 walks. He continued to dominate lefties, though, holding them to a .244/.269/.333 slash line, good for a .602 OPS. With Josh Hader being the Brewers’ number one lefty, Claudio should be able to slide back into more of a lefty-specialist role, which should put him in position to thrive again.

Prior to 2018, Claudio never had an ERA over 3.00 and despite his struggles this past season his career ERA is still a respectable 3.20. He’s held opposing lefties to a .194/.220/.278 line (.498 OPS) over 315 plate appearances through his career. He also showed his ability to succeed in the closer’s role in 2017, collecting 11 saves while finishing seventh among big-league relievers with 78.2 innings, plus four innings that he threw in a May 2 spot start. It’s debatable how much his heavy workload in ‘17 impacted his performance for the worse this year.

After they non-tendered lefties Xavier Cedeno and Dan Jennings at the end of last month, the Claudio addition gives the Brewers a left-handed reliever who is arguably better than the guys he’s replacing and is a bit cheaper as well.