The Brewers added to their bullpen late Monday night, announcing a deal with Rangers to bring in matt bush. Texas receives the infielder Marc Mathias and minor league pitcher Anthony Kelly in the case.
Bush had a good season out of the Texas bullpen. The 36-year-old pitcher made the Opening Day roster and pitched 36 2/3 innings in 40 outings, posting a 2.95 ERA. He fanned nearly 30 percent of batters faced with an above-average 12.4 percent strike rate while averaging north of 97 mph on his radiator. Bush generates top-end spin on his four-seam fastball and has had strong results on his breaking ball.
When healthy, Bush is a very attractive enclosure piece. He pitched for five seasons for Texas, posting a 3.34 cumulative ERA on 177 2/3 frames with above-average numbers of strikeouts and walks. The problem for the right-hander is to stay healthy. He pitched just four innings at big league level between 2019-21, losing the majority of that stretch to elbow issues – including Tommy John surgery in July 2019.
Bush missed a few weeks earlier in the year with pain in his forearm, but has been healthy for a few weeks. He’ll add an affordable and generally effective power arm to the mid-innings mix for manager Craig Counsell, and he’s more than a short-term pick-up. While Bush is already in his mid-30s, he is eligible for arbitration for two seasons beyond this year. Drawing on a modest platform salary of $825,000, he would be a low-cost bullpen option in Milwaukee through 2024 if he retains his spot on the 40-man roster.
In exchange, Milwaukee sends a utility option and a pitching prospect to Texas. Mathias, 28, has played just 22 major league games – six this season. He did, however, have a stellar season with the Brew Crew’s top affiliate in Nashville, hitting .318 / .421 / .518 with eight home runs and a massive 13.4 percent walk rate in 202 trips to the plate. He splits his time between second and third base this year, and he also has some previous outfield experience.
Kelly, 22, was recently named the No. 7 prospect in the Milwaukee system by Baseball America. It’s partly a reflection of a generally thin minor league system, but the southpaw was drafted in the second round in 2019. Reviewers have long praised his fastball-slider combination while questioning his control , and that’s borne out in his numbers at High-A this season. Kelly has a 3.86 ERA in 19 starts, hitting over 30% of batters faced but walking 13.4% of opponents. Rangers will have to add the Illinois native to the 40-man roster at the end of the season or leave him available in the Rule 5 Draft.
MLB Nerds was the first to report that the Brewers were acquiring Bush. Robert Murray of Fan Sided reported for the first time that the Brewers were trading Mathias to the Rangers, while Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first with the inclusion of Kelly.
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