The Los Angeles Angels have signed free agent pitcher Alex Claudio to a one-year deal, the club announced. The left-hander was non-tendered by his former club, the Milwaukee Brewers, in early December. The deal is reportedly worth $1.125 million. Claudio is the third new reliever new GM Perry Minasian has acquired this offseason. The Angels traded for Raisel Iglesias and selected Jose Alberto Rivera in the Rule 5 Draft.
While not necessarily a “wow” signing, Claudio not only lengthens the Angels bullpen but also gives them a lefty option. Plus, he was cheap. While his 4.26 ERA in 2020 doesn’t jump off the page, his peripheral numbers are solid. He led relievers in 2020 with an 81.7 exit velocity. His career splits definitely speak to that of a lefty specialist, though Claudio held his own against right-handers in 2020.
Left-handed batters: .202/.246/.310/.556
Right-handed batters: .305/.356/.442/.798
Left-handed batters: .212/.257/.364/.621
Right-handed batters: .268/.348/.390/.738
Yet, there are reasons to believe that Claudio might be trending downward. His career ERA of 3.44 has not been met in the last three seasons. And, his walk rate since the beginning of 2019 is a full walk higher than his career rate per nine innings. Despite these numbers, Claudio remains a noticeable upgrade for an Angels bullpen that struggled mightily in 2020. Plus, he currently is the only major league left-handed reliever on their roster.
The Angels signing of Alex Claudio is the type of move that winning clubs get right. Now, that remains to be seen with Claudio. Still, Angels fans should applaud the current moves Minasian has made to remake the bullpen. Not only have they been low-cost but they have allowed for payroll flexibility moving forward. Instead of getting bogged down by bigger contracts with more years, the Angels have pieced together improvements at minimal expense. This means that Minasian and the front office still have a decent amount of money to play with to improve the club. While that could mean a couple of smaller moves to beef up the pitching depth, it could also be used for a bigger splash. Did someone say, Trevor Bauer?
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