ARLINGTON, Texas — The NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers acquired hard-throwing reliever and former No. 1 draft pick Matt Bush from the Texas Rangers on Monday night for infielder Mark Mathias and a top pitching prospect.
Bush is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA and one save in 40 games this season, including five starts in an opener role. He has not allowed an earned run over his past 12 appearances.
He was brought in to help fortify the Brewers’ bullpen on the same day they traded All-Star closer Josh Hader to San Diego for reliever Taylor Rogers and three other players.
“A little shocked, definitely wasn’t expecting it, but I guess just a bittersweet moment,” Bush said. “It’s also really exciting to go to the Brewers, a team that’s really winning right now and has a chance of going to the playoffs and doing big things.”
Texas got Mathias and left-handed pitcher Antoine Kelly. Mathias will be added to the 40-man roster with the Rangers, and Kelly will be assigned to their minor league system.
Bush, 36, has spent all five of his big league seasons with the Rangers (2016-18, 2021-22). He was the first pick in the 2004 draft as a shortstop by his hometown San Diego Padres.
Bush was a 30-year-old rookie when he made his major league debut with Texas in 2016. That first game came nearly 12 years after he was drafted, the longest gap for a No. 1 pick to make his debut.
In 180 big league games as a pitcher, he is 12-7 with a 3.34 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 177⅔ innings.
“It’s really hard to say goodbye here. This has been home for me for quite a while,” Bush said. “My family and I have been treated so well here, and I feel like the organization’s always taken care of myself first and then baseball.”
While with the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2012, Bush had a DUI crash during spring training that seriously injured, and nearly killed, a 72-year-old man on a motorcycle. Bush spent 3½ years in prison.
The Rangers scouted Bush in the parking lot of a restaurant where he was employed while in a work-release program for the final months of his prison sentence in the fall of 2015.
Bush twice had surgery on his right elbow while with the Rangers. After a procedure in 2018 to repair and reinforce the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament didn’t work, Bush needed Tommy John surgery in 2019. It was the second time he had that ligament replacement surgery since converting from shortstop to pitcher not long after getting drafted.
After missing all of 2019 and 2020, his only appearance for Texas last year was a scoreless inning in the season finale.
Mathias, who turns 28 on Tuesday, has started five games at second base for the Brewers this season. He made his big league debut playing 16 games for Milwaukee in 2020 before missing all of last season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Kelly, who is 22 and was a selection for the All-Star Futures Game, was a second-round pick by the Brewers in the 2019 draft. He was 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 19 starts at Class A Wisconsin this season.