With several hurlers leaving the organization via free agency or non-tender so far this winter, the upper-level pitching depth for the Milwaukee Brewers could be considered dangerously thin, at least at this point in the offseason. The club made a small move to try and help rectify that situation earlier this afternoon, announcing a minor league pact with veteran right-hander Justin Grimm. The deal includes an invitation to big league camp in Spring Training.
RHP Justin Grimm has been signed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Major League camp. pic.twitter.com/nQP0ZPC1bH— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 4, 2019
Grimm, 31, was a fifth-round pick of the Rangers back in 2010 and he has appeared in parts of seven big league seasons with Texas, the Cubs, the Royals, and the Mariners. His best work came during a three-year stretch from 2014 through 2016 with Chicago, when he posted consecutive seasons of better-than-average run prevention while pitching to a cumulative 3.36 ERA in 203 games and 171.1 innings pitched. Overall, however, his performance at the MLB level has been less than inspiring.
Grimm has totaled 306 appearances (19 starts) and 356.0 innings during his career, logging a 4.98 earned run average (120 ERA-). He owns marks of 9.13 K/9 versus 3.89 BB/9, and run estimators have long valued his work on the mound quite a bit more highly than his actual run prevention totals. He has been exactly average over the course of his time in The Show by FIP- (100) and slightly better than that by DRA- (95).
Grimm’s last appearance in the big leagues came in 2018, when he finished with an ugly 10.38 ERA across 21 games and 17.1 innings split between Kansas City and Seattle. He spent the duration of 2019 pitching at the Triple-A level with the Reds and Dodgers, piling up 65.1 innings over 52 outings with a 5.23 ERA. He did punch out 84 batters for an 11.6 K/9, but also struggled with his control while issuing 32 walks (4.4 BB/9).
Grimm has leaned primarily on his four-seam fastball and curveball during his career, including throwing his Uncle Charlie at roughly a 40% rate from 2015-2018. The last time he pitched in the big leagues, he averaged 93.9 MPH with his heater, though his average velocity was closer to 95+ MPH in the four seasons prior to that. On occasion, he’ll also throw a sinker as well as a slider. His platoon splits have been relatively even at the MLB level, allowing a .319 wOBA to righties and a .329 wOBA to left-handed batters.
Beyond Josh Hader (who might get traded) and Corey Knebel (who might not be ready for Opening Day after Tommy John surgery) there is currently plenty of uncertainty in Milwaukee’s bullpen. Ray Black, Jake Faria, Taylor Williams, and Deolis Guerra are all out of minor league options and as things stand right now, they figure to begin the year on the MLB roster if healthy. So if those six pitchers are penciled into relief roles to start 2020, that would leave another two spots up for grabs in Spring Training (barring any other additions, of course). Grimm figures to have a legitimate chance at competing for one of those remaining slots.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, and Baseball Prospectus