The Milwaukee Brewers bolstered their impressive bullpen Thursday afternoon by acquiring Joakim Soria from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for two players and cash.
The two players that the White Sox received as part of the deal are left-hander Kodi Medeiros and right-hander Wilber Perez. Medeiros is currently listed as the number-18 prospect in the Brewers’ farm system.
Medeiros, 22, was drafted in the first round (12th overall) of the 2014 amateur draft back in 2014 by the Brewers. He was pitching down in Double-A Biloxi, where he held a 7-5 record with a 3.14 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 103.1 innings pitched. He has yet to live up to his first-round potential, having struggled mightily at the High-A level for the past two seasons.
Perez, 20, is the other prospect going to the White Sox as part of this deal. Perez was signed as an international free agent last season and has been playing with the Dominican Summer League Brewers. He currently holds a 5-1 record in that league with a 2.01 ERA to go along with 47 strikeouts in 40.1 innings pitched.
Both pitchers are quite a few years away from the major league level, if they reach that level at all. That being said, the White Sox did well to add more young, impressive arms to their pitching pipeline for Soria, who is clearly not going to be part of the team’s future.
Soria, 34, had been serving admirably as Chicago’s closer, notching 16 saves in 19 opportunities so far this season. He also sports a solid 2.56 ERA while recording 49 strikeouts in 38.2 innings pitched.
Soria is the epitome of a dependable late-inning reliever. Through 11 seasons, he has compiled 220 saves while holding an impressive 2.84 career ERA. He will be joining a Brewers team that has their eyes set on a postseason berth, currently sitting 2.5 games back of the division-leading Chicago Cubs but holding the top Wild Card spot.
Soria provides late-inning insurance for an already potent Brewers bullpen. He will join the collection of young fireballers in the Milwaukee bullpen such as Jeremy Jeffress, Josh Hader, and their closer, Corey Knebel.
By making this move, the Brewers are hoping to ease the burden on their starting rotation. Milwaukee has received strong contributions from starters such as Tyler Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, and Junior Guerra, but its starting rotation still leaves much to be desired. The Brewers are without a true workhorse in the starting rotation, hence their need for more help in the bullpen. Milwaukee is without a starter whom it can rely upon to pitch deep into the seventh or eighth innings of ballgames. The addition of another dependable reliever such as Soria allows the Brewers to lean more on their bullpen than the starting rotation.
Not only was the market for quality starting pitchers thin, but it was also expensive. Dependable starters, despite being rentals on expiring contracts, were demanding high-level prospects across the league. Thus, the Brewers decided to go a different route to bolster their pitching staff. Milwaukee’s manager, Craig Counsell, will now stick with the rotation he already has and will use his strong bullpen to close out the latter half of games going forward.
This strategy makes life much easier on the starting rotation because now those pitchers will not be required to pitch deeper than they are comfortable with. It also accentuates the powerful bullpen that the Brewers have built.
National League rivals will lament being down late in a ballgame against the Brewers and having to face the likes of Jeffress, Soria, Hader, and Knebel. That will be a formidable, late-inning combination as the Brew Crew continues their march towards October.