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Milwaukee Brewers re-sign Jeremy Jeffress to avoid arbitration

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The 30 year old righty pitched for Milwaukee down the stretch after coming over from Texas in a trade.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the deadline for MLB teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players. We already saw our own Milwaukee Brewers avoid arbitration with one of their players earlier today when it was announced that Stephen Vogt was re-signed to a one-year deal, despite being considered as a non-tender candidate. Another player mentioned as a possible non-tender was reliever Jeremy Jeffress, but the Brewers have agreed to bring him back for next season as well:

Jeffress, 30, was originally a first-round pick by the Brewers back in 2006 and despite pitching for four different franchises as a professional, has really only experienced success with Milwaukee. He was reacquired from Texas at last summer’s trade deadline, when the club sent minor leaguer Tayler Scott to the Rangers. Jeffress began the season by posting a 5.31 ERA across 40.2 innings with Texas, but managed to improve that to a 3.65 mark while tossing 24.2 innings for Milwaukee down the stretch.

Jeffress’ solid post-trade ERA wasn’t supported by his peripherals, however. His velocity was down a mile-and-a-half per hour from 2016 (though he still registered a sizzling 95.2 MPH) and he could manage only a 22:15 K/BB ratio during his second-half run with the Milwaukee Nine. His WHIP came in at an unsightly 1.58, while his 7.60 DRA during his 22 Brewers appearances was some 61% worse than league average.

Jeffress had been predicted to earn $2.6 mil in arbitration through MLB Trade Rumors, though like Vogt, he agreed to settle for a contract well below that figure in order to remain in Milwaukee and avoid a non-tender. His salary for 2018 will be $1.75 mil with club options for $3.175 mil in 2019 and $4.3 mil in 2019, potentially buying out Jeffress’ remaining two years of arbitration control and one year of free agency.

This deal will allow the Brewers some cost certainty going forward, giving them the option to employ Jeffress at what relatively low costs in each of the next three seasons, but mitigates the risk of further regression from Jeffress by not even guaranteeing him employment for the 2018 season. He’ll compete for a spot in the bullpen next spring but the Brewers will be able to release him prior to the regular season if they so choose and will only be on the hook for termination pay (either 30 or 45 days worth, depending on when he’s hypothetically let go).

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus.