Free agent reliever Jeremy Jeffress has officially agreed to a minor-league deal with the Brewers, the team announced Friday.
Jeffress had been outrighted by the Toronto Blue Jays, but chose free agency rather than stay in the minors for Toronto. Instead, he will head to the minors for the Brewers. This is Jeffress' second stint in the organization: He was Milwaukee's first round pick in the 2006 draft, but was shipped to the Kansas City Royals as part of the Zack Greinke deal.
The Brewers beat out both the Cardinals and White Sox for Jeffress as all three teams had been mentioned as having interest in the right-hander. It's little surprise why, Jeffress' natural talents are extraordinarily enticing though he hasn't put it all together in the eight years since being drafted.
Jeffress, still just 26 years old, has made a total of 50 major league appearances since 2010, but has yet to pitch in more than 14 games in the big leagues in any given year. He hasn't had the best go of it, with a 3.94 ERA and 1.777 WHIP, but if Milwaukee can fix the rampant control issues that have plagued him his entire career, then look out. In 52⅓ innings he has allowed 38 walks for a whopping 6.5 BB/9. The good news is he has struck out 50 batters over the same period.
Of course, he's had the same issues in the minors. A 5.3 BB/9 and 9.9 K/9 are enough to make any team dream about what he could do if he can just find his spots a little more often. He looks even better when you consider those numbers are supported by an upper-90s fastball that can reach 100 at times.
After being drafted, Jeffress had been tested out as a starter first. After struggles in High-A and Double-A, the Brewers moved him to the bullpen for a year before trading him. Kansas City attempted to convert him back to starting, but that failed and he has been a full-time reliever the past few years.
Jeffress' first time with the Brewers might be remembered most for his three positive tests for marijuana. The first netted him a warning, the second a 50-game suspension, and the third a 100-game suspension. If he is caught again, he will receive a lifetime ban. It's important to note that Major League players are not tested for marijuana, however.
Since leaving Milwaukee, Jeffress was diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy. He had been suffering from seizures, anxiety and other health issues due to the epilepsy and, according to Jeffress, he has been self-medicating with marijuana.
It's probably a safe assumption that Jeffress will report to Triple-A Nashville for Milwaukee. If he can reign in all those walks, he could certainly be called up sometime later in the season. Again, the stuff is there, it's just a matter of locating it better.
Jeffress made three appearances in the majors for Toronto this year, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks.