ANAHEIM -- The Angels have made it a priority to upgrade the bullpen this offseason and made another addition on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with left-handed reliever Alex Claudio on a one-year deal worth $1.125 million, the club announced.
He’s the third reliever added to the mix this offseason, joining closer Raisel Iglesias and Rule 5 selection Jose Alberto Rivera. Claudio, 28, posted a 4.26 ERA with 15 strikeouts, six walks and two homers allowed in 19 innings with the Brewers in 2020. In a seven-year career with the Rangers and Brewers, Claudio has a 3.44 ERA with 217 strikeouts in 311 2/3 innings.
"Having a quality lefty is important, especially in our ballpark with a shorter right field," Angels general manager Perry Minasian. "He's a guy who has a few things: durability, versatility in his role, can pitch multiple innings and defends himself against right-handed hitters."
Claudio has historically fared much better against lefties, holding them to a .202/.246/.310 line compared to .305/.356/.442 against right-handers. Claudio's fastball averages just 88.5 mph but he throws from a lower arm angle, creating deception. It makes him difficult to square up, as he led all relievers with an opposing exit velocity of just 81.7 mph in 2020.
“I think it comes with experience,” Minasian said. "I think he understands who he is and knows what type of pitcher he is. He's really intelligent. He can make adjustments on the fly on the mound, and he can read swings. He has the ability to put the ball on the ground, which I think is important with our infield defense. And from an exit-velo standpoint, he had an outstanding year and led all relievers."
Claudio, who hails from Puerto Rico, gives the Angels a much-needed left-handed arm in the bullpen, and the Angels are likely to continue to upgrade the bullpen this offseason. They’ve had a lot of turnover this offseason, losing Hansel Robles, Keynan Middleton, Matt Andreise, Justin Anderson, Hoby Milner, Jacob Barnes and Noé Ramirez.
"I think we're better than we were entering the offseason, especially after the tender deadline," Minasian said. "The holes we had, I think we've improved. We're not done yet and we're still exploring ways to improve. I think with the bullpen, it's important not only to have quality but quantity."
Minasian also confirmed the club remains focused on adding starting pitching and that they also have interest in acquiring a catcher. They were pursuing free-agent catcher James McCann, reportedly offering him a three-year deal, only to see him sign a four-year deal worth $40.6 million with the Mets.
"I think at catcher, similar to the way people talk about pitching depth, you can always use more," Minasian said. "We're looking at every single part of this club, and if it makes sense and it's the right guy, that's something we'll look to improve."