The Milwaukee Brewers have announced the signing of free agent lefty Blaine Hardy on Twitter. Hardy should stand a good chance of making the big league bullpen and he could be a sneaky good addition.
Hardy, 33, has been a serviceable member of the Tigers pitching staff for the past several years, with a career 3.73 ERA in 233 games.
Hardy missed all of 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he should be close to 100% and ready to go when spring training gets started in a few weeks.
An experienced veteran, Hardy can add leadership and help fill out the Brewers bullpen in 2021.
With 4.108 years of big league service time, Hardy now becomes the most experienced pitcher on this Brewers pitching staff, surpassing fellow lefty Brent Suter who has 3.161 years of service.
It’s a minor league deal with an invite to camp for Hardy, so there’s no guarantee he’ll actually make the roster. But the reason he’s on a non-guaranteed deal is because he’s coming off that elbow surgery and didn’t play in 2020.
Because Hardy’s left-handed, he has some added value in the bullpen and he could help replace Alex Claudio, the Crew’s former resident situational lefty, and perhaps have more success in that role than Claudio did. He doesn’t walk many guys, doesn’t strike out many either, pitches to contact and keeps the ball on the ground.
He has a bit of an unusual pitch mix for a reliever, throwing primarily changeups, 44.8% of the time in 2019, but 25.1% overall in his career. His fastball doesn’t really go much more than 89-90 MPH. He also has a curveball and slider, giving him a four pitch repertoire as a reliever.
If he makes the roster, Hardy would join Suter, Josh Hader, and Eric Lauer as the lefties on the team. There’s also Angel Perdomo on the 40 man roster and another minor league non-roster invitee Hoby Milner as other lefties that will be in camp.
Another important thing to note is that Hardy still does have a minor league option remaining, according to Roster Resource. So the Brewers would be able to send Hardy down to the minors if they wanted to, but his contract likely has an option near the end of spring training that if he doesn’t make the roster, he can choose to become a free agent again and sign elsewhere.
If he does make the roster out of camp, though, and the Brewers want to send him down later in the season, they would be able to do so, as long as he doesn’t reach five years of service time first. Once a player reaches five years, they no longer have minor league options.
The Brewers have been starting to get a little more active in recent days on the free agent market. Spring training is coming up soon and there are still more holes to fill.