The Cleveland Guardians have acquired the services of another pitcher, former Los Angeles Angel Jaime Barria. The two sides agreed to terms on a minor league contract following the 27-year-old's decision to elect free agency.
This is a relatively low-risk move for Cleveland that fits the mold of other signings the organization has made in the past. The Guardians have been known to sign players to minor league deals, with a few of them working out quite well for the organization. Considering the financial uncertainty that is surrounding the organization at this moment in time, it is not exactly a surprise to take a flier on someone who has 134 appearances in his six-year career.
The Guardians have been threading the needle between being competitive and finding a way to be fiscally responsible for the past few seasons. This has resulted in some roster decisions, both popular and unpopular, that have made a tangible impact on the state of the organization. Even though there is a very good chance that the Guardians do not receive the same amount of production as other players signed to similar deals, this was still an addition that makes sense for the ballclub in its current state.
Barria has not been able to be consistent on a year-over-year basis, alternating good campaigns with bad ones. The good news is that Barria is coming off a season that saw him finish with a 5.68 ERA and 1.470 WHIP in 82.1 innings across 34 appearances, which would qualify as one of his down years. If this pattern continues, Barria will be in line for a season of much better outcomes.
While there is a world where the signing of Barria results in a positive for the Guardians, there is one thing it cannot be. A low-cost replacement for Shane Bieber. It appears there is a very good chance the Guardians deal Bieber this winter, and they would need a pitcher to take his spot in the rotation if that happens. As far as Barria is concerned, he seems to be better suited as a multi-inning relief pitcher or spot starter, if necessary, rather than a full-time replacement for Bieber. That is if Barria ends up on the major league roster in 2024.