Angels sign left-handed reliever Alex Claudio to 1-year deal

Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Left-hander Alex Claudio agreed to a one-year, $1,125,000 contract Wednesday with the Los Angeles Angels, adding the sidearm reliever to their bullpen makeover.

Claudio has appeared in 239 games over the past four seasons with Texas and Milwaukee, third most by a pitcher in the majors during that stretch. He led the sport in 2019 with 83 appearances for the Brewers, tying their franchise record.

“Having a quality lefty is important, especially in our ballpark with a shorter right field,” new Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “He has the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark against the opposite side, which is really important. From a mentality and a makeup side, one of the things we’re looking for is competitive guys, and this is as competitive a guy as you’ll see.”

Claudio is 15-8 with 13 saves and a 3.44 ERA in his major league career, which began with the Rangers in 2014. He is particularly effective against left-handed batters, who have a .202 career average against him, but he also managed to be effective last season even after the implementation of the major league rule requiring relievers to face at least three batters.

Claudio is the latest addition by Minasian in his strategy to patch the Angels’ leaky bullpen, which struggled again last season. Los Angeles blew 14 of its 26 save opportunities, tied for the most in the majors, with a bullpen that had a 4.63 ERA.

Last week, the Angels started that makeover by adding longtime Cincinnati Reds closer Raisel Iglesias in a trade involving Noe Ramirez.

Los Angeles has retained its three busiest relievers from last season – Mike Mayers, Felix Pena and Ty Buttrey – but has cut ties with the next eight most-used relievers on last season’s roster.

“We’re better than we were entering the offseason, especially after the tender deadline,” Minasian said. “I think we’ve improved. Are we done yet? I think we’re still exploring ways to improve.”

Minasian is also still shopping for starting pitchers after the Angels had the 26th-best ERA in the majors last season at 5.09. Los Angeles remains in competition for NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and other free agents to add to a rotation that includes Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning.

The Angels finished 26-34 and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year, prompting owner Arte Moreno to replace general manager Billy Eppler with Minasian. Los Angeles hasn’t won a playoff game since 2009.