BOSTON -- The Red Sox have made their first trade of the offseason, acquiring right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop from the Brewers in exchange for 20-year-old lefty Luis Ortega.
In Badenhop, the Red Sox begin filling their needs in the bullpen with a 30-year-old who has been consistently dependable over the past five seasons. He threw 62 1/3 innings in 2013, striking out 42 and walking 12 while posting a 3.47 ERA. In 2012, he had nearly identical numbers while pitching with the Rays in the American League East.
Badenhop made $1.55 million with the Brewers in 2013. He's eligible for arbitration again for next season and will likely get a slight raise due to service time. Since Badenhop is eligible for free agency following the 2014 season, the Brewers elected to deal him and save the roughly $2 million in salary Badenhop will likely be awarded. At that point, he fit a need for the Red Sox.
"I thought [Brewers general manager Doug Melvin] was calling to let me know they were going to non-tender me or something," Badenhop said. "So to have landed with the Red Sox is pretty awesome.
"I completely understand, this being my fourth trade now. I told Doug I couldn't thank him enough for the opportunity to land in Milwaukee, and I told him I wish I would have pitched better. I always expect great things out of myself, and I was hoping to take a little more of a next step this last year. Obviously, it didn't happen.
"But there's still something to be said for giving innings and being someone you can count on, and [Melvin] said it was not performance-based whatsoever. It was a dollars thing. For a midmarket team, it makes sense that if you can get somebody to do the same thing for a lower price, you're going to do that. There are no hard feelings there."
A ground-ball pitcher, Badenhop has allowed six homers or less in each of his five full seasons as a reliever. He held right-handed batters to a .229 average, while lefties hit .338 against him.
A former starter in the Minors for the Tigers, Badenhop was traded to the Marlins in 2007 as part of the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. Badenhop was traded to the Rays in '11 and then to the Brewers in '12.
The Red Sox parted with Ortega, a prospect from the Dominican Republic who has a 2.25 ERA in two seasons in Rookie ball. He converted from a starter to a reliever in 2013 and increased his strikeout rate from 4.4 per nine innings to 6.4.
Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato.. Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy contributed to this story.