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Brewers Free Agent Targets: Todd Coffey

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The big righthander thinks he has something left.

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This caught my attention this morning. Charlie Wilmoth of MLB Trade Rumors writes:

“... righty reliever Todd Coffey is looking for a major league opportunity. Coffey hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012, having since spent time in the Pacific Coast League, the Mexican League and the independent Atlantic League, but he told MLBTR’s Jeff Todd earlier this month that his fastball still sits in the mid-90s. The 36-year-old owns a lifetime 4.10 ERA, 6.75 K/9, 2.83 BB/9 and 51.4 percent ground-ball rate in a combined 438 2/3 innings with four teams.”

It got me to thinking of Coffey’s time with the Brewers. Todd came over in a September waiver claim from the Reds in 2008, having posted a 6.05 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP coming back from injury with the Reds. The Brewers must have had a magic pill for him, though, as he had nine appearances through the end of the year, allowing no runs in 7.1 innings.

The Brewers signed Todd to an $800 K deal for 2009, and got a real bargain when he worked 83.2 innings in 78 appearances. He posted a 1.16 WHIP and 2.90 ERA (FIP 3.65), went 4-4 and even saved 2 games. The Brewers brought him back at a $2 million dollar deal for 2010. That certainly seemed reasonable for the big righty, as he ate innings and was effective.

Unfortunately, Coffey’s 2010 campaign saw his ERA jump to 4.76 (4.20 FIP), with a 1.41 WHIP. He appeared in 69 games and went 62.1 innings. The Brewers granted him free agency in December and he went those two last seasons, with Washington and the Dodgers. He was generally effective in those last two years, but had to undergo the second Tommy John surgery of his career in 2012 and he missed all of the 2013 season while recovering. He was effective in AAA in 2014 after signing a minor league deal with the Mariners (1.93 ERA, 34:16 K/BB ratio in 37.1 IP) but hasn’t been able to entice a big league team to give a chance since, spending 2015-16 in the Mexican League and unaffiliated ball.

Coffey was a fan favorite, and his dash from the bullpen to the mound always brought cheers from the crowd (and shortened games, too!). He pitched with great effort, and wore his heart on his uniform sleeve. He was an intimidating presence on the mound.

So...would a minor league deal with an invite to spring training be ridiculous? If he is still throwing in the mid-90’s, why not? It could be another cheap, effective bridge signing to increase the depth of the franchise’s staff, and perhaps provide another solid arm out of the pen. If he doesn’t have it, he can eat up innings in Colorado Springs and let those real prospects toil in AA.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference