Normally, when you are talking about reliever signings, the guy who has a career 4.10 ERA and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 and didn’t pitch for the two seasons before that is not usually the type of player to move the needle much on the free agent market.
Josh Lindblom, as a result, finds himself as a bit of odd case. After baseball did not treat him particularly well after stints with the Pirates, Athletics, Ranges, and Dodgers, Lindblom headed to Korea where he blossomed while being among the best (if not THE best) pitcher in the league. In 194 innings in 2019, he posted a 2.50 ERA while striking out nearly a quarter of the batters he faced. Now, we are talking about the KBO and not the major leagues, but the numbers do stand out and he was widely expected to get a major league contract this offseason.
As it turns out, the Brewers were the team to pull the trigger and bring him in.
Right-hander Josh Lindblom is in agreement on a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, sources familiar with it tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2019
Lindblom in agreement with #Brewers: Three years, $9.125M. First: @JonHeyman.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2019
There are a few important notes regarding Lindblom. First, if he even remotely approaches the numbers he put up in Korea, this deal is an absolute steal for the Brewers. No one thinks that that him turning into a front line guy in 2020 is a particularly likely outcome, but given the low amount of money involved here, it is a low risk/high reward situation for the Brewers.
It is also worth mentioning that Lindblom is 32 years old and Father Time is undefeated even though it doesn’t LOOK like he has pitched a ton at first glance. This is compounded by the fact that Lindblom has actually two separate stints overseas pitching which brings into question how much of a workload he was subjected to, the types of conditioning, and the level of opposing batters as well.
In short, nothing is a sure thing with Lindblom, but this is a worth gamble for the Brewers.