The Brewers continued push for minor-league deals took an interesting turn tonight. Jon Heyman is reporting that the Brewers have agreed to a deal with free-agent pitcher Joba Chamberlain. While no details of the deal were immediately available, it is believed that it is a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.
Chamberlain hasn’t been much of a factor in the major leagues over the last few seasons. He pitched with Cleveland to start the 2016 season, and put up some decent numbers, recording a 2.25 ERA in 20 games, but also had a 8.1 K/9 and 4.95 BB/9. The Indians designated him for assignment at the beginning of July, and he did not pitch in the major or minor leagues again that season. Before that, he split time between the Tigers and Royals in 2015 while recording a 4.88 ERA, and had a 3.57 ERA with the Tigers in 2014.
Originally a top prospect with the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain was a major name when he made his debut in 2007. His strong rookie year in 2008 earned him 8th place in the AL Rookie of the Year vote, but he fell off quickly after that, and eventually transitioned from a starting pitcher to a reliever. His fastball has dipped from around 95 MPH to 93 MPH, and his results have not been as good since then. He also has a slider and a curveball that he adds into the mix.
With the Brewers looking for diamonds in the rough that they can profit from this offseason, this is likely just a deal to see what Chamberlain has left, if anything. If he puts together a strong spring, he could make the team and potentially be a trade candidate. If not, then the Brewers part ways with him before the start of the year. It’s a low risk play, though definitely one of the higher profile ones the Brewers have done.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.