Badenhop traded to Boston
Less than a year after the Brewers traded for him, Burke Badenhop is on the move again.
The Brewers dealt the right-handed sinker specialist to Boston on Friday for Minor League left-hander Luis Ortega, a show of Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin’s confidence in his other in-house bullpen options.
Badenhop, who turns 31 in February, was arbitration-eligible again after earning $1.55 million last season. The Brewers preferred to spend the $2 million or so they would have spent to bring him back on other needs, and trust middle relief to pre-arbitration pitchers like Michael Blazek, Alfredo Figaro, Donovan Hand and Rob Wooten, all of whom had some success at different points in 2013.
The Brewers will also have starters Hiram Burgos and Mike Fiers coming back from injury as options to start or work relief, and, if he’s not lost in next month’s Rule 5 Draft, could take a look at former supplemental first-round pick Kyle Heckathorn, who pitched to a 3.60 ERA at Triple-A Nashville.
All of those other pitchers are right-handed.
“I talked to Burke about it and the fact this is a business,” Melvin said. “He seemed to understand it.”
Melvin will still monitor the relief market this winter but is more interested in a left-hander to pair with Tom Gorzelanny and, more importantly, someone with closing experience to pair with Jim Henderson. Last year, John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez fit that bill, but Rodriguez was traded to the Orioles in July and Axford to the Cardinals in August (for Blazek).
Badenhop made 63 appearances out of the bullpen in 2013, going 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA across 62 1/3 innings, striking out 42 and walking 12. He held right-handed batters to a .229 average, although lefties hit .338 against him.
The Brewers had acquired Badenhop in a trade with the Rays last December. He also has pitched for the Marlins and is 18-20 with a 3.98 ERA over six big league seasons and is on track to reach free agency after the 2014 season.
Ortega, 20,has spent parts of two seasons in Boston’s farm system since signing as an international free agent in July 2011. He is 9-6 with a 2.25 ERA in 25 games, including 14 starts (96ip, 24er). In 2013 in the Gulf Coast League, he made 12 appearances, including one start, and was 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA.
Melvin said the Brewers would evaluate Ortega’s role — starter vs. reliever — in Spring Training. If all goes well, he could begin the season at Class A Wisconsin.
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