Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has said several times since the end of the season that one of his goals was to improve the team’s bullpen depth before spring training.
The Sox started that process on Friday when they obtained righthander Burke Badenhop from the Brewers for 20-year-old lefthander Luis Ortega.
Badenhop, who turns 31 in February, appeared in 63 games last season, going 2-3 with one save. Over 62⅓ innings, he allowed 62 hits and struck out 42 against 12 walks.
Badenhop was used in mostly low-leverage situations by Milwaukee. Of the 74 games the Brewers won, Badenhop appeared in only 18 of them.
But the Red Sox see him as an undervalued asset. Badenhop held righthanded batters to a .229 average and .574 OPS last season. In 163 plate appearances against righthanded batters, Badenhop walked four. He also had a 1.16 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio.
Over the last two seasons, Badenhop has 15 nonintentional walks over 124⅔ innings. He also has 2.67 ERA over 33 career appearances against the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, and Yankees.
Because he throws strikes, gets ground balls, and is tough on righthanders, the Red Sox believe Badenhop can be an effective matchup reliever for manager John Farrell.
This marks the fourth time Badenhop has been traded since 2007, the third time in the last three years. Drafted by the Tigers in 2005 out of Bowling Green University, Badenhop was one of six players traded to the Marlins in 2007 for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
New Boston teammate Andrew Miller also was part of that deal.
Florida traded Badenhop to Tampa Bay for a minor leaguer in 2011. The Rays traded Badenhop to the Brewers last December for minor league outfielder Raul Mondesi Jr.
Milwaukee was motivated by economics. Badenhop is eligible for arbitration for the third time and would likely get $2 million after earning $1.5 million in 2013. For Milwaukee, he was a nontender candidate.
The 5-foot-10-inch Ortega was signed for $45,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2011.
He was 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 12 appearances in the Gulf Coast League last season. He walked 15 and struck out 26 in 36⅔ innings.
Interest in Matt Kemp
The Red Sox are one of several teams that have made trade inquiries on Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, according to a major league source. Kemp is under contract for six more years at about $130 million. It would appear the Dodgers would have to eat some of the remaining money to receive a fair return.
The Dodgers, according to the source, have not been shopping Kemp, but that hasn’t stopped teams from inquiring, among them the Blue Jays and Mariners.
Kemp, 29, was limited to 73 games in 2013 because of a variety of injuries. He played in just 106 games in 2012 as well, but he averaged 159 games over the previous four seasons. His best season was 2011, when he led the National League with 39 homers and 126 RBIs to go with a .324 average.
The Sox are obviously looking at all options to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in the event the free agent outfielder signs with another team.