The Milwaukee Brewers could still use more bullpen depth, so does a reunion with Jeremy Jeffress this offseason make sense for them?
Despite the myriad of moves made by GM David Stearns and the Milwaukee Brewers this offseason, the bullpen is one area that has remained relatively untouched. But given how reliant Craig Counsell is on his bullpen – they pitched the fifth most innings in 2019 – adding some depth is never a bad idea, especially with the current unknowns on the Brewers’ roster.
Like most positions on the free agent market at this point, the high-end relievers are all but gone and it’s fairly picked over. However, a reunion with our old friend Jeremy Jeffress could make sense and it fits the Brewers’ M.O. this offseason.
I’m sure as most remember, Jeffress had a fantastic 2018 season where he had a career year with a 1.29 ERA, a 0.991 WHIP, and allowed just 11 earned runs in his 76.2 innings pitched as he played a big role in the Milwaukee Brewers reaching the NLCS.
Unfortunately for Jeffress and the Milwaukee Brewers, injuries and poor play would derail his 2019 campaign where he posted a 5.02 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP, and 29 earned runs given up in just 52 innings pitched. The result, was that he was eventually cut.
The underlying numbers show that Jeffress had lost nearly 2 mph off of his fourseam fastball as well as his sinker, according to Brooks Baseball. Not to mention that his groundball percentage dropped 8 percent, his strikeouts per nine went from 10.45 to 7.96, and his line drive rate jumped nearly 4 percent.
However despite his struggles, as I mentioned above, at only 32-years-old Jeffress has bounce-back potential and is a low risk, high reward candidate. Which is right up the Brewers’ alley.
In 2019 Jeffress was making just $3.175 million with the Brewers and he likely won’t be making that much in 2020, regardless of who he signs with. And perhaps depending on how his market unfolds, the Milwaukee Brewers could even offer him a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.
Also, take it for what it’s worth, but there is something about Jeffress when he is in a Brewers’ uniform. Jeffress has 304.2 combined innings as a Brewer spread out over his career and holds a 2.66 ERA compared to his 4.76 ERA in 96.1 innings with Toronto, Texas, and Kansas City. Certainly a large enough sample size to show that he’s been much more effective over his career when in Milwaukee.
Spring Training is on the horizon and we know Stearns will continue to tinker with this roster. But as the old saying goes, “you can never have too many arms” and given Jeffress’ potential for a rebound combined with the minimal cost it will take to acquire him on a one-year deal, a reunion would be a very David Stearns-esque type of move.