With the Brewers’ previously reported signing of lefty reliever Boone Logan finally becoming official, the team needed to make room on the 40-man roster to accomodate the move. We now know what that move is, and it might be seen as a bit of a surprise.
The #Brewers have officially signed LHP Boone Logan to a 1-year contract with a club option for 2019. RHP Taylor Jungmann was granted his release to pursue an opportunity in Japan. The 40-man roster is at capacity. pic.twitter.com/Mwnls10BTW— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) January 10, 2018
While Jungmann was a definite DFA possibility the next time the Brewers needed a 40-man spot, very few people could have predicted an outright release of the former first-round pick. He may not have worked out as a starter for the Brewers, but it seemed like he could still turn himself into a usable middle reliever.
This move comes off as a display of goodwill for general manager David Stearns and the Brewers — basically, they’re saying, “we no longer have an opportunity for you here, but we’re giving you the opportunity to find it elsewhere instead of retaining your rights.” In that way, you could compare it to Stearns simply waiving Scooter Gennett last spring instead of using his last minor league option.
Jungmann choosing to make the next step of his career overseas may also come as a surprise, but with the MLB free agent market still in gridlock, flamed-out former first rounders like Jungmann likely won’t find work until everyone else signs. For that reason, pursuing an opportunity in Japan -- where he’ll also likely get paid better than he would stateside -- makes sense.
He’s also the type of pitcher that could find a lot of success overseas, possibly setting himself up for a nice payday if or when he decides to come back home. In fact, there’s a chance he could quickly make a name for himself in the Land of the Rising Sun:
Taylor Jungmann projects as the 12th-best starting pitcher in NPB. Rare to see a pitcher this good make the move from MLB to Japan.— NEIFI Analytics (@NEIFIco) January 10, 2018
The 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Jungmann and fellow first-rounder Jed Bradley struggled with consistency for much of their time in the organization. It didn’t help that pitchers like Sonny Gray picked after the duo went on to have successful major league careers.
In the end, Jungmann made 30 total appearances for the Brewers between 2015 and 2017. He actually had a stellar Major League debut in 2015, making 21 starts and putting up a 3.77 ERA (3.92 FIP), but his mechanics totally fell apart in 2016 and his confidence was more or less destroyed during his minor league demotion that year. Sent to Colorado Springs after putting up a 7.76 ERA in 8 games to start the 2016 season, he was crushed while trying to make mechanical adjustments at high altitude, leading to a 9.87 ERA in 8 starts and a further demotion to Double-A Biloxi. He was able to right the ship with the Shuckers, but at the same time, he was then a 26-year-old playing in Double-A.
Jungmann was able to rebound with a solid 2017 at Colorado Springs, but while he had his confidence back, it was clear the organization’s confidence in him wasn’t. Despite a 2.79 ERA in 17 games at Triple-A, Jungmann was routinely passed over for big league spot starting opportunities, and as Kyle notes, was totally snubbed from a September call-up, even when the Brewers were scrambling to fill two spots in the rotation during the season’s final month.
Not surprised to see Jungmann's departure. Was out of MiLB options, would've needed to make team out of spring or hit the waiver wire. When he didn't get a Sept call-up even though club was desperate for SP, writing was on the wall.— Brew Crew Ball (@BrewCrewBall) January 10, 2018
He was never the fast-rising quality starter the Brewers envisioned when they picked him as the most successful college pitcher in his class, but Jungmann still finishes his Brewers career with a positive WAR.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference