The Cleveland Guardians had one of the game’s better bullpens last season. Now, that bullpen will have a fresh face in 2024: Scott Barlow. Cleveland acquired the former Royals closer for fellow righty Enyel De Los Santos, although the two are very different relievers. Here’s a closer look at the Scott Barlow-Enyel De Los Santos trade.
The Guardians’ Return
- RHP Scott Barlow (4.37 ERA, 79 K over 68 IP)
New Guardians reliever Scott Barlow cemented himself as one of the game’s better relievers between 2021-22, as he notched 40 saves and struck out 168 batters over 148.2 IP.
The numbers (4.37 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) on the surface were not as strong in 2023. Although, Barlow’s 3.07 ERA and 1.19 WHIP were much-improved after a midseason trade to San Diego.
Still, Barlow remained one of the league’s best in terms of average exit velocity, Barrel%, and Hard Hit%, as he ranked in the top 10% of all players in each category this past season. Additionally, Barlow’s fastball plays up thanks to above-average extension.
Barlow’s a bit of a change of pace as compared to who the Guardians gave up to get him. The 30-year-old relies heavily on the slider and curveball, both of which he can command well and gets whiffs off of. He’ll also make use of a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer that he pairs with a sinker.
Barlow made $5.3MM in 2023.
The Padres’ Return
- RHP Enyel De Los Santos (3.29 ERA, 62 K in 65.2 IP)
De Los Santos failed to find solid footing over his first three seasons in the Majors. The 27-year-old owned high ERA (5.70) and FIP (5.58) figures before he found his way to Cleveland in December 2021.
However, De Los Santos did see an uptick in velocity in 2022 that lasted into 2023. And thanks to Baseball Savant‘s Illustrator, one can see a slight lowering in the average release point between two years ago and today.
Aside from a mid-90s fastball that uses about 60% of the time, De Los Santos makes use of a slider that’s been a key weapon against righties, along with a changeup that he almost always used against left-handed hitters.
De Los Santos has been very effective in recent years. The new Padres righty can be tough to pick up, can throw hard, and was rather good at limiting hard-hit contact this past season.
Now, the Padres will add the 27-year-old to their roster for 2024.
The Guardians pick up a reliever that Cleveland’s very familiar with, given that Barlow spent a number of years with the Royals.
While the addition of Barlow might look like a lateral move to some, it does give the Guardians a right-hander that gives opposing teams a different look.
Fellow right-handers Eli Morgan, Trevor Stephan, and Nick Sandlin all have roughly the same pitch portfolio: four-seamer fastball, slider, and changeup and/or split-change — although, the pitch usage and delivery vary.
Someone like Barlow can give the Guardians some added depth and variety to a bullpen that also includes James Karinchak and closer Emmanuel Clase. As mentioned earlier, he’ll work heavily off the curveball and slider, and he has a penchant for getting ground balls and weak contact.
As for the Padres, San Diego shed a salary that the front office was looking to move. De Los Santos has been a steady workhouse over the past two seasons, as he’s logged 120 appearances between 2022-23.
And, he still has three years of control left & shouldn’t cost too much for 2024.