The Milwaukee Brewers have confirmed the reports from earlier today that they’ve inked infielder Jedd Gyorko to a one-year contract. In the club’s official announcement, it was also revealed that their is a club option for 2021 included. Financials of the deal have not yet been reported. Infielders Justin Smoak and Eric Sogard also signed one-year deals with club options, and Avisail Garcia’s two-year contract includes a club option that could turn into a mutual option based on his playing time.
INF Jedd Gyorko has been signed to a 1-year contract with a club option for 2021. pic.twitter.com/6DO0jKAPvE— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) January 10, 2020
Gyorko was one of the worst hitters in baseball last season, with his 36 wRC+ ranking 439th among the 451 hitters who accrued at least 100 plate appearances in 2019. He managed only a .174/.248/.250 slash line with a pair of home runs in 62 games split between the Cardinals and Dodgers. He was limited by calf and back injuries, however, and was quite productive for the Cardinals in the three years prior, slashing .259/.331/.463 across 1,321 plate appearances for a 111 OPS+ during 2016-2018 while hitting 30, 20, and 11 home runs in those seasons.
There is some reason to believe there was a bit of misfortune involved in Gyorko’s awful season in 2019, as his strikeout (23.8%) and walk (8.9%) rates were largely on par with his career averages. His BABIP of .212 was in the bottom-15 of all batters with at least 100 trips to the plate and nearly 60 points below his career average of .279. Given that same plate appearance threshold, however, Gyorko did rank among the league’s worst in terms of soft contact rate (27.9%, 5th-worst) and infield fly balls (18.5%, 25th-worst). He’s also among the slowest players in the big leagues, checking in with a Sprint Speed in only the 8th percentile.
Gyorko finished 2019 with a cumulative 68 DRC+ as well as a expected wOBA of .267. While both of those marks are still generally terrible, his hypothetical production was at least notably better than his actual output at the plate. He turned 31 in September and the Brewers ran him through an “extensive” physical to confirm that he’s healthy, so the club is obviously hopeful that he’ll be able to bounce back.
Gyorko has experience all over the infield and has graded out particularly well at third base, where David Stearns confirmed that he’ll be sharing time with Eric Sogard heading into the upcoming season. Milwaukee’s top exec says he is “comfortable” with the current group of infielders, further stating:
More: "It allows us to see not only how the rest of the offseason unfolds, but how the first part of the season unfolds, in terms of how we want to structure a roster, how we want to play different players. It gives Craig the ability to mix and match depending who we’re playing.”— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 10, 2020
To make room for Gyorko on the 40-man roster, the club announced that right-hander Jake Faria has been designated for assignment. Faria was the return from Tampa Bay in the deal that sent out Jesus Aguilar but he never found a footing with Milwaukee’s pitching staff, allowing 11 earned runs in 8.2 innings out of the bullpen down the stretch while also spending a chunk of time in Triple-A. Faria is out of options heading into the upcoming season. Faria will now enter DFA limbo and the club has seven days to trade him or attempt to pass him through waivers. If he clears outright waivers, he does not have enough service time to refuse the assignment. Stearns said he’s hopeful that Faria will be able to remain with the organization.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, Baseball Prospectus, and Baseball Savant