Today was the deadline for clubs across Major League Baseball to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Earlier in the day the Milwaukee Brewers officially agreed to contracts with catcher Stephen Vogt and reliever Jeremy Jeffress, and this evening they announced that four other arb-eligible players will be returning for 2018: Jimmy Nelson, Corey Knebel, Hernan Perez, and Jonathan Villar. Right-hander Jared Hughes has been non-tendered and will enter the free agent market.
Hughes, 32, spent the parts of the first six seasons of his career in Pittsburgh before signing with Milwaukee as a free agent shortly before Opening Day in 2017. He turned in a fine campaign in middle relief for Milwaukee, logging an excellent 3.02 ERA and 82 DRA- across 59.2 innings. The groundball specialist induced worm-burners at a stellar 63% clip last season while also posting a career-best 7.2 K/9.
Hughes was projected for a modest $2.2 mil arbitration salary from MLB Trade Rumors, but the re-acquisition and subsequent multiyear deal given to Jeremy Jeffress, another groundball specialist who is younger and throws harder than Hughes, made Hughes a bit of a redundant presence on the roster. He’ll now hit the open market in search of a new employer for 2018, and given his successes last season he should have little trouble finding a new big league contract.
Brewers are open to bringing Jared Hughes back, David Stearn says. They just were not willing to go to into arbitration with him.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 2, 2017
#Brewers GM David Stearns says he is open to re-signing Jared Hughes but "will see how things play out" now that he is a free agent. Acknowledged that he pitched well for team.— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 2, 2017
As for Nelson, Knebel, Perez, and Villar, they will be able to continue negotiating with the Brewers until February and attempt to settle on contracts for 2018. If the club fails to agree to terms with any of those players before then, they’ll be required to go to a hearing where the two sides will make arguments before an arbitration panel in order to determine salaries for the upcoming season.
With Hughes no longer in the picture, a spot opens up on Milwaukee’s 40 man roster, which now stands at 39.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus