Non-Tender Candidate: Jair Jurrjens

Jair Jurrjens entered the 2012 season with a career ERA of 3.40 and a sparkling 50-33 record. He had just obtained a substantial raise through the arbitration process and seemed to have established himself as an All-Star caliber pitcher.

Jair Jurrjens - Braves (PW)

But he has pitched ineffectively this season, struggling as a Braves starter and getting a demotion to the minor leagues. He’s now on the disabled list and he’s not getting any more affordable, so the Braves will have to consider removing him from their roster by the December deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration eligible players.

The Tigers signed Jurrjens back in 2003 and traded him and Gorkys Hernandez to Atlanta four years later for Edgar Renteria. In 2008, his first season with the Braves, Jurrjens started 31 games and finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting. By 2009 he had reached the 200-inning plateau and posted a 2.60 ERA with twice as many strikeouts as walks. And in 2011, he made the National League All-Star team, posting a 2.96 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 42% ground ball rate in 152 innings.

Yet the 2012 season has consisted of one disappointment after another. Jurrjens struggled through four April starts and, after losing his rotation spot and being demoted to the minor leagues, posted a 5.18 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in ten forgettable starts at Triple-A. The Braves recalled him in late June, and he made seven more appearances before hitting the disabled list with a strained right groin. In total, he has a 6.89 ERA with about as many strikeouts (19) as walks (18) in 48 1/3 innings at the MLB level this year.

Given that stat line, it’s not surprising to learn that Jurrjens’ stuff appears to be in decline. His average fastball velocity has declined for the fifth consecutive season and now sits at 88.6 mph, according to FanGraphs. And among pitchers with at least 40 innings this year, only Burke Badenhop, Bartolo Colon and Aaron Cook generate a lower percentage of swings and misses than Jurrjens, who induces swinging strikes on fewer than five pitches for every 100 thrown (4.6%). Simply put, hitters aren’t have any trouble connecting with his offerings. 

Jurrjens earns $5.5MM this year and is on track to go to arbitration for the third and final time this coming offseason. He projects to earn $5.9MM in 2013 if he continues pitching at the MLB level and the Braves tender him a contract, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates. That would be a major commitment for a player who might not even make the Braves’ 2013 rotation, so the possibility of a non-tender looms despite his past contributions.

Though Jurrjens seems headed for free agency this winter, another option exists. There could be a team looking for pitching — the Royals, Rockies, Astros or Twins, perhaps — that would be willing to take a chance on a 26-year-old one year removed from an All-Star season. The Braves, who were said to be willing to listen on Jurrjens last offseason, wouldn’t get much in return this time. But it’s a possibility general manager Frank Wren will surely consider if it would allow the Braves to obtain something of value in return.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

42 Responses to Non-Tender Candidate: Jair Jurrjens Leave a Reply

  1. Slopeboy 3 years ago

    To GMs everywhere…stay away, stay very far away! Anytime the Braves look to rid themselves of a pitcher, it should be a warning sign. Somehow the Baves organization knows when it’s time to cut the cord on pitchers. Be fore warned!

    • vtadave 3 years ago

      If that’s true, shouldn’t they have traded Jurrjens awhile ago?

    • ian 3 years ago

      Scott Diamond says “hello”

      • Michael Brown 3 years ago

        This time next year, let’s judge Scott Diamond.

        • nick1538 3 years ago

          If he loses 5 MPH on his fastball he will be averaging 84! Of course, he isn’t a guy that lives and dies by his velocity. Got to hope (for the Twins sake) that he can maintain his 55% GB%.

  2. dvmin98 3 years ago

    I hope he’s non tendered and the Padres give him a minor league deal next year. Petco may help his woes! Darren Balsley can fix him

  3. james moore 3 years ago

    surely there is no way Braves tender a contract

  4. Kent Kimes 3 years ago

    Tender of knee, tender of groin – no tender contract.

  5. tomymogo 3 years ago

    Non-tender Jurrjens, too many injuries. Resign Ben Sheets, trade Tommy Hanson for an outfielder.

    Possible OF candidates:
    – Jacoby Ellsberry
    – Dexter Fowler
    – Colby Rasmus
    – Adam Jones
    – Shin-Soo Choo
    – Nick Markakis
    – Justin Upton
    – Carlos Quentin

    Possible FA candidates:
    – Josh Hamilton
    – Michael Bourn
    – Nick Swisher
    – BJ Upton

    • Colin Christopher 3 years ago

      I hear this re-sign Ben Sheets thing a lot. I get it…he’s a great story and he’s pitched really well. But we’re talking about a guy who’s been completely out of baseball for two of the last four years because his arm keeps falling off, and who I’m sure will get some nice offers after the season. Meanwhile, Tommy Hanson is only 25 and has been one of the better pitchers in baseball for the last three years. He’s been pitching hurt and with a new delivery this season. It’s been his worst season, but he’s still 12-5 while averaging almost a strikeout an inning. He’s set to hit arbitration for the first time, so he’s not even that expensive yet. Why in the world would the Braves trade him? They NEED him.

      • tomymogo 3 years ago

        Because I would want to chip in before Hanson pulls a Jurrjens and becomes a non-tender candidate.

        First Hanson is arb eligible, second the guy has had injury problems the last two years. Now here is the biggy, when he first came up he threw 93-95, now he is 87-92 exactly how Jurrjens, I prefer Kris Medlen. And if Sheets gets injured well call up Delgado or Teheran.

        Last year when JJ was having a good season last year, I kept saying, time to cash in before his luck runs out, because he had lost 5 miles per hour at age 26, same as Hanson.

      • Michael Gardiner 3 years ago

        Hanson seems to be following the same track as Jurrjens. His velocity has fallen each of the last 3 years. He has also worked too hard to get the strikeouts too. He throws a lot of pitches and does not pitch them deep into games. Also his WAR has declined by over 1 each year thus far. 2009:3.7, 2010:2.6, 2011:1.2, 2012:currently at 0.1(with equal starts to last year). I do not know about you but I tend to look for progression from a 25 year old not regression. His ERA has followed the same trend as well.

    • haymaker9 3 years ago

      Why trade Tommy Hanson… are the Braves down on him, or maybe worried about an injury? Fowler for Hanson would be an interesting trade.

    • rundmc1981 3 years ago

      Yes, let’s trade a controllable top-of-the-rotation starter with some injury issues for Jacoby Ellsbury, who has more injury issues, and is going into his contract year where he will price himself outside of ATL and almost every team not in NY/LA. Not smart, man.

      We put up with Jurrjens for this long (injuries, top of the rotation stuff when healthy), why not stay with Hanson, whom we drafted? Look at Halladay to see that some pitchers have to have some time before they put it altogether – not that Hanson will be Halladay, but their careers certainly have their similarities outside of shoulder fatigue.

      • tomymogo 3 years ago

        Ellsburry for Hanson, both are injury prone, Jacoby almost won the mvp last year, Hanson has back and shoulder issues. Jacoby has been injured every year except last year. As a Braves fan I’d risk it, but Hanson might not be enough, depending on what they ask for, they should seriously consider it

        • MaineSox 3 years ago

          Ellsbury has been injured twice, and both of them were from freak accidents, he’s not injury prone (certainly not in the way Hanson is injury prone). Shoulder problems with pitchers are terrifying, so I don’t know that a straight swap for the two would work (despite Hanson being cheap and under control for two more years than Ellsbury), but it’s probably not way off.

          I’m not sure that Atlanta would go for it though unless they are going all in for next year; Ellsbury is only under contract through the end of next year, and Atlanta isn’t generally a team to sign players for the kind of money Ellsbury will be looking for.

  6. “He projects to earn $5.9MM in 2013 if he continues pitching at the MLB level and the Braves tender him a contract”

    And why would we tender him a contract, esp. at that price?

    • tomymogo 3 years ago

      Better ti just give that money to Ben Sheets

      • Colin Christopher 3 years ago

        Sheets will get more from someone else. The Braves would be better off spending their money on offense.

        • tomymogo 3 years ago

          6 + incentives to make it 10

        • Michael Gardiner 3 years ago

          Sheets singed for less money with the Braves but said it was a better fit overall for him. He would probably sign with them at a discount given it is close to his home and everything.

          • rundmc1981 3 years ago

            He signed with them for the 2012 season because he’s smart enough to know that ATL has good pitching development, good defense, decent run support, and always a chance to contend – thereby giving him additional opportunities to impress. Not including the personal reasons of being close to home.

            Think of Sheets as a 2012 savior and not as a solution for the future. He’s solid right now, but I’d doubt he’d give much of a discount knowing that this’ll probably be his last contract. Plus, any team that signs him will be risky considering the past of him breaking down frequently.

          • Michael Gardiner 3 years ago

            I am just pointing out that people saying he is going to take more lucrative offers are wrong cause he has already proven that wrong. Also thus far he seems to be enjoying himself in ATL. I doubt he gets a $10M deal unless that number is only reached through incentives based on games started and things like that.

            He also signed with Atlanta because 1) they are an NL team(that cuts half the league out immediately) 2) They are in a pitchers park(which cuts out Philly, Cincy, etc.) 3) it is near his home in Louisana and as far as I can tell he is a Braves fan. Basically being with Atlanta is a perfect fit for him.

            The only other consistent contenders that would fit his demands are SF, LA(given new ownership), STL, and Washington(crazy to think this year is a flash). Two of those are obviously west coast teams. Three of them have pretty well set rotations as well.

          • james moore 3 years ago

            Im a Braves fan and Sheets has said he turned down more money to sign with Braves. But these “hometown discounts” or “player x loves Atlanta” never seem to equal them signing long term contracts…Sheffield, Texiera, Drew. Once more guaranteed money gets floated their way, adios. Sheets will not be signing a minor league deal like he did in June, see you later.

          • Michael Gardiner 3 years ago

            I am not saying he is going to take a minor league deal either. It is kind of funny though. All 3 of those players were trades. While they may have enjoyed their time in Atlanta they did not necessarily come by choice. Sheets did despite better money elsewhere. What is also funny about the 3 you mentioned, the only one who performed right around the same after leaving was Teixeira, who was of the 3 least likely to stay.

            Here is an idea, you tell me what team fits him best that is an NL team, in a pitchers park, and a consistent contender? Again, Atlanta is the perfect fit for him.

          • utahjazzfanforever 3 years ago

            I’m certain that Ben Sheets signed with Atlanta because at this point in his career, having fun and being in contention is way more important than pure dollars. I’m sure if he gets a reasonable contract he will stay. He knows as well as anyone that his arm could blow out at any time so he better enjoy what he has now because it may never come again. If I know I may have an extremely limited career, I would want to go with a good organization that has a talent for winning every year.

  7. I can still remember last year some Royals fans wanted to trade Will Myers for Jurrjens. Wow I am so glad that never happened given that now we could get him for next to nothing or as a possible low cost free agent. I don’t think Jurrjens is the answer in KC but the Royals better bring in some stuff this off season.

    • I woulda loved that trade. What about Delgado, Salcedo/Ahmed, and Spruill for Myers?

    • rundmc1981 3 years ago

      Some “Royals fans” wanting to trade Myers for Jurrjens are not Royals fans. Take it as Braves fans trying to will a trade sending Jurrjens out of ATL. Also, that rumor of Myers also included Prado in addition to Jurrjens, but even that was quickly batted down. With Francoeur in a bad contract with KC, Myers looks to be the heir apparent.

  8. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Being lumped together with Aaron Cook and “The hopper” couldn’t good for anyone’s future, except for a retirement career counselor and would *LOVE* to hear just how Boras could possibly spin everything negative regarding Jurrjens, especially the declining velocity at such a young age and his awful swing and miss rate and then compare it to 2 guys (Colon, Cook) who at least have a reason.. As in injuries over their careers.

    This ought to be one of Boras’s biggest Pinnochio’s to date coming up folks.

  9. Otis26 3 years ago

    He’ll be a Royal.

  10. Braves1976 3 years ago

    JJ’s issues are mostly health related, he’s not been the same since his knee problems. Hopefully he gets back on track in the future. But I don’t see that happening with the Braves. They will continue to look to trade him, which now seems unlikely. If they cannot he will surely be non-tendered.

  11. James Moore 3 years ago

    Read the article. Previous stats look good to me. Most braves fans didn’t consider him elite, just that he had positive value.

  12. james moore 3 years ago

    “And in 2011, he made the National League All-Star team, posting a 2.96 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 42% ground ball rate in 152 innings.” — I don’t call any part of that stat line atrocious

  13. WAR of 3.7 and 3.9 in his first two year so yeah we had high expectations that he would be a formidable pitcher for years to come. They only gave up Renteria for him so it looked like another big steal by Wren. Despite his ultimate suckage, he did provide value for two years so it was still a pretty good deal. If his velocity/movement/health magically ever comes back I still believe he could be a solid back-end rotation guy.

  14. basilisk4 3 years ago

    To all the geniuses out there — Jurrjens regressed because his top fastball has dropped from 96 MPH to 90 and he can’t hit a corner to save his life. Again, try watching a guy pitch before you talk about things you know nothing about.

  15. PHILAbeatdown 3 years ago

    The 2/1 k/bb ratio is horrible and showed he was pitchinv over his head. He is right braves fans thought he was great and were calling for him to be cy young for a while last season. Of course you braves fans will lie now…

  16. bigpat 3 years ago

    It took him four years and a bunch of injuries to regress. One horrible year doesn’t take away the results he produced the other seasons. Sure they were a sign that he could regress and he’s not worthy of a long term deal, but he at least knew what he was doing the past few years and had enough stuff to get guys out.

    Find me a coach who gets mad at his player for pitching a complete game shutout while only having a 1/1 K/BB ratio and I’ll believe you.

  17. Justin 3 years ago

    He’s never been a pitcher to strike out a lot of batters, he relied on getting the batter to put the ball in with soft ground outs or pop ups. He is a finesse pitcher, you are just trying to compare him to a strikeout pitcher, that’s the problem.

  18. Justin 3 years ago

    I love when people bring up the BABIP stat when they have no idea what they are talking about. Of course his BABIP is low, he’s a finesse pitcher who relies on the batter putting the ball in play with ground balls and pop ups

    You know if I pitched, and threw 60 mph down the middle, people would crush it. I’d have a 9.00 ERA but my BABIP would be .590. People like you would say, “oh he’s just unlucky”

Leave a Reply