It's been a quiet offseason for general manager David Stearns and the Brewers so far, but it looks like they're making their first move -- and it's bringing a familiar face back to Milwaukee.
Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman are both reporting that Yovani Gallardo is signing a major league deal to return to where he started his career.
Source: Free-agent RHP Yovani Gallardo in agreement with #Brewers. Gallardo was Brewers’ second-round pick in 2004, pitched for MIL from ‘07 to ‘13. #Mariners declined his $13M option. Combined ERA past two seasons: 5.57.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2017
Gallardo got an MLB deal with crew— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 16, 2017
Gallardo debuted with the Brewers 10 years ago as a 21-year-old much-hyped pitching prospect. In 8 years with Milwaukee, Gallardo pitched in 214 games, putting up a 3.69 ERA with a 109 ERA+ and striking out 1,226 batters. He ranks 15th all-time among all Brewers in bWAR and is the franchise's all-time leader in strikeouts and K/9, ranks 5th in ERA and wins, and 4th in WPA. He also holds 4 of the franchise's 9 all-time 200-strikeout seasons.
The large number of innings at such a young age appeared to have an effect on Gallardo, though, as his strikeout stuff waned by the end of his Brewers tenure. His time in Milwaukee came to an end after the 2014 season, when he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Corey Knebel, Marcos Diplan and Luis Sardinas. Following a successful season with the Rangers (which could be argued was mostly smoke and mirrors, with his 5.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9), Gallardo signed a free agent deal with the Baltimore Orioles that had to be restructured when the physical revealed a shoulder problem.
The past two years ended up being a total disaster for Gallardo, as he put up a 5.42 ERA in 23 starts with the Orioles before being traded to the Mariners. Things got even worse for him in Seattle, where he was roughed up for a 5.72 ERA and was demoted to the bullpen for the first time in his career. That made it an easy decision for the Mariners to decline the $13 million option they had for him, making him a free agent.
It's unclear what Gallardo's role will be in his return to the Brewers. There's a chance the team could add him into the bullpen mix, use him in a swingman role (similar to how they used Brent Suter in 2017), or give him a chance to win a rotation spot out of spring training as they look for options to replace Jimmy Nelson for the first part of the season. Gallardo may not have much left in him, but at the very least this is a nice nostalgia move, and it can't hurt to see if he can find some Jeremy Jeffress-like Milwaukee magic in his age 32 season.
Salary info isn’t available yet, and the team won’t announce the deal until Gallardo passes his physical.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference