Jaime Barria had a very interesting six-year tenure with the Los Angeles Angels. He was extremely promising in his rookie year as a starter, but never quite stuck in the rotation. He had great moments out of the bullpen and even as a spot starter as recently as this past season, but again, he never quite stuck.
When the Angels opted to outright Barria off of their 40-man roster, the writing was on the wall in terms of his Angels career. He had more team control but simply hadn't shown enough to remain with the club after an inconsistent 2023.
With Barria electing free agency, the only question was where would he sign? The answer has been revealed. Barria is headed to Cleveland on a one-year deal according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Former Angels pitcher Jaime Barria signs one-year deal with the Guardians
The 27-year-old had his ups and downs throughout his Angels career, and has been inconsistent in recent years as well. Primarily working out of the bullpen, Barria excelled in a long relief role in 2022. He posted a 2.61 ERA in 35 appearances and 79.1 innings pitched. The advanced stats weren't great, but Barria was eating innings and recording outs which, of course, the Angels took.
This season was trending in the same direction. He had a 1.96 ERA in his first ten appearances and 23 innings pitched working primarily as a long reliever. He pitched so well to the point where the Angels inserted him into the rotation in place of the injured Jose Suarez. He made six starts for the Angels and pitched well in four of them, but was moved back to the bullpen after the all-star break.
The second half was when the advanced stats finally caught up to him. They had been predicting regression, and it happened in a big way. He had a 10.29 ERA in 16 second half appearances, and saw his season end prematurely due to a hamstring injury in early September. He went from one of the elite long relievers in the game to being completely unusable in a blink of an eye. Everyone remembers the Astros game in which he helped blow, but there were several second half meltdowns.
Barria had always expressed his desire to start, but hadn't pitched well enough to earn that role. With Cleveland he'll presumably once again work out of the bullpen with them having a full rotation. However, if they trade Shane Bieber who is reportedly available, it's possible he fills in as a starter.
Going to an organization that often gets the most out of its pitchers should be a good thing for Barria. It'll be interesting to see how he does in 2024.