Brewers add to dominant bullpen by acquiring ground ball machine Alex Claudio in trade with Rangers

The reigning NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers have added another piece to their already dominant bullpen.

Thursday afternoon the Brewers announced they have acquired ground ball specialist Alex Claudio from the Rangers in exchange for a competitive balance draft pick.

Claudio, 26, is a funky low-velocity left-hander -- he operates with a mid-80 fastball and a dead fish low-70s changeup -- who generates a ton of ground balls. Here is the ground ball leaderboard among pitchers with at least 200 innings pitched from 2016-18:

  1. Alex Claudio: 63.5 percent
  2. Marcus Stroman: 61.3 percent
  3. Clayton Richard: 59.3 percent
  4. Jeremy Jeffress: 58.6 percent
  5. Blake Treinen: 58.4 percent

In 202 2/3 innings over the last three years Claudio managed a 3.24 ERA with a 5.8 K/9, so ground balls are his thing, not strikeouts. He has also been far more effective against lefties (.194/.220/.278) than righties (.313/.357/.440) in his big league career to date, so, for all intents and purposes, Claudio is a left-on-left ground ball specialist.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers
Ground ball specialist Alex Claudio is the new member of the Brewers' bullpen. USATSI

The Brewers already have a stacked bullpen, one they rode to the NLCS this past season. This is what their relief unit currently looks like with Claudio in the mix:

Claudio is under team control through 2021 as an arbitration-eligible player, so this was not a short-term pickup. The Brewers added a player with long-term control to their bullpen. 

As for the Rangers, that competitive balance pick currently slots in as the 40th overall selection. That will change slightly as picks are gained and lost through free agent compensation this winter.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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