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Jeremy Jeffress Rumors
The Brewers have signed reliever Jeremy Jeffress to a minor league deal, the club announced (per a tweet from MLB.com's Adam McCalvy). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported earlier (on Twitter) that it appeared a deal was in the works.
Jeffress was originally drafted in the first round by Milwaukee before he was dealt in the Zack Greinke deal. Fast-tracked to the bigs after converting to relief, Jeffress showed promise in his first MLB stint with the Brewers in 2010 at age 22. Since then, however, he has never managed to get over his statistically-obvious control problems (career 6.7 BB/9). His once-and-future club will hope to return him to the form he showed in brief action last year, when he struck out 12 and walked five in 10 1/3 big league frames after putting up a 1.39 ERA in 32 1/3 minor league innings.
FRIDAY: The White Sox, Brewers and Cardinals are three of the teams interested in Jeffress, TSN's Scott MacArthur reports. Conversely, MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo (Twitter links) hears from a source that that the Cards aren't in the hunt but Jeffress' "decision [is] almost made" about his new club. At least 15 clubs called about Jeffress once he became available, Cotillo notes.
THURSDAY: Blue Jays right-hander Jeremy Jeffress has rejected an outright assignment and elected free agency, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Additionally, Jeffress is expected to sign with a new club within 24 to 48 hours, according to Passan.
A former Top 100 prospect (per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus), Jeffress was selected 16th overall by the Brewers back in the 2006 draft. Jeffress has a 4.47 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 52 1/3 career Major League innings. However, he's also walked 38 batters in that time, illustrating the control issues that have followed him throughout his professional career. Jeffress has a 4.10 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 454 minor league innings.
Despite his control issues, it's not surprising that a new deal for Jeffress already appears to be close. He's still just 26 years of age, has fanned more than a batter per inning since being drafted, and in his Major League career he's posted a 53.6 percent ground-ball rate and averaged 95.9 mph on his fastball. Jeffress has a tantilizing skill set for teams in need of bullpen help, should he overcome some of his command problems.
The Blue Jays have issued a press release to announce a series of roster moves: Right-hander Marcus Walden has been designated for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Munenori Kawasaki, who has been promoted to the Majors to take the 25-man roster spot of Maicer Izturis. Izturis, who is most likely out four to six months with a torn LCL, has been placed on the 15-day DL. Additionally, the club announced that right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who was designated for assignment last week, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo.
Walden, who turned 25 near the end of the 2013 season, began the year at Buffalo but pitched just four innings prior to today's news. The former ninth-round pick allowed six runs in those four frames but posted a strong 3.71 ERA in 162 1/3 innings at Double-A New Hampshire in 2013. Walden misses few bats but has solid command, as evidenced by career ratios of 5.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in his minor league career.
The 32-year-old Kawasaki appeared in 96 games for the Blue Jays last season, quickly winning over fans and teammates with his quirky personality and his sense of humor. On the field, he batted .229/.326/.308 with a homer and seven stolen bases while appearing at both middle infield positions.
Jeffress has seen MLB time in five seasons, but has never logged more than 15 1/3 innings in any one season. The former No. 16 overall pick (Brewers) has yet to harness his big arm, as his career 6.7 BB/9 tally in the bigs would indicate. He did put up outstanding results last year, as he yielded one earned run with a 12-to-5 K:BB ratio in 10 1/3 Major League innings in addition to registering a 1.39 mark in his 32 1/3 minor league innings (8.4 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9).
April 13: The Blue Jays were not able to trade Jeffress, and have placed him on waivers, Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca tweets.
April 4: The Blue Jays announced that they have designated reliever Jeremy Jeffress for assignment, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. In a corresponding move, the team recalled righty Marcus Walden to take his roster spot, the club announced.
Jeffress, 26, gave up three hits and a run tonight in what could have been his last appearance for Toronto. He has seen MLB time in five seasons, but has never logged more than 15 1/3 innings in any one season. Jeffress has yet to harness his big arm, as his career 6.7 BB/9 tally in the bigs would indicate. He did put up outstanding results last year, as he put up a 0.87 ERA in 10 1/3 big league frames (10.5 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9) and a 1.39 mark in his 32 1/3 minor league innings (8.4 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9).
Today's minor moves…
- The Blue Jays outrighted 25-year-old righty Jeremy Jeffress, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Jeffress had been designated for assignment on April 6th to open a 40-man roster spot for David Bush. The Jays had acquired him from the Royals for cash considerations in November. Jeffress, a former first-round pick of the Brewers, had joined Kansas City in the December 2010 Zack Greinke trade. Jeffress has a big fastball, though he's dealt with a pair of suspensions for marijuana. He posted a 4.97 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, and 0.62 HR/9 in 58 Triple-A innings last year.
Jose Reyes says that he isn't sweating the Blue Jays' slow start and it doesn't sound like the front office is either. Here's the latest out of Toronto..
- The Blue Jays' claim of Casper Wells off of waivers likely means that Toronto will soon go with a seven-man bullpen, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. The club had been carrying eight relievers but that will soon change and it's probable that right-hander Edgar Gonzalez will be the one who is designated for assignment. Gonzalez was claimed off of waivers on Sunday.
- General Manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters, including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, that Miguel Batista was signed primarily for minor league depth. The right-hander was assigned to Triple-A Buffalo after being picked up yesterday afternoon.
- Jeremy Jeffress hasn't been placed on waivers just yet and Anthopoulos noted that he has until Sunday to do so, Davidi writes. The club is also going to look and see if there's a deal for the reliever, but there's no interest just yet.
The Blue Jays have selected the contract of righty Dave Bush and designated fellow reliever Jeremy Jeffress for assignment, the team announced via press release and on Twitter. Jeffress, 25, is out of options.
Jeffress gave up two walks and a home run in his first outing this year, after pitching 13 1/3 innings of 6.75 ERA ball for the Royals last year. Once a highly touted prospect, Jeffress was part of the deal that sent Zack Greinke to the Brewers. The Jays acquired him from Kansas City in the offseason for cash considerations.
Bush pitched in Korea in 2012 after eight big league seasons. His last season as a regular MLB starter was in 2010, when he started 31 games for the Brewers and logged a 4.54 ERA in 174 1/3 innings. In 2011, Bush struggled as a reliever and spot starter for the Rangers, sporting a 5.79 ERA over 37 1/3 innings.
Zack Greinke made quite a few headlines this offseason by becoming the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in Major League history (Felix Hernandez has since topped him). The former No. 6 overall selection in the draft signed a six-year, $147MM with the Dodgers.
Greinke has long been a high-profile arm, thanks largely to his 2009 American League Cy Young Award. His 9.3 wins above replacement (Fangraphs version) that season were the most by any pitcher since Randy Johnson's 2004 season.
So it's no wonder that Greinke had a long list of suitors when it became evident that the Royals were going to trade him. Nor is it surprising that Greinke commanded a young shortstop, a young center fielder and a pair of right-handers that had both been first-round picks.
On December 19, 2010, the Royals traded Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt to the Brewers in exchange for shortstop Alcides Escobar (24 years old at the time), center fielder Lorenzo Cain (24), right-hander Jake Odorizzi (20) and right-hander Jeremy Jeffress (23). Each player in the deal had recently ranked in Milwaukee's Top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America. Let's take a look at each on an individual basis…
The Major League Side
- Zack Greinke: Greinke joined Shaun Marcum as one of two offseason acquisitions for the Brewers that offseason, as the team clearly had an "all-in" mentality entering the final season of Prince Fielder's contract. He broke a rib that offseason playing basketball, limiting him to 171 2/3 innings, but he pitched to a 3.83 ERA with an NL-best 10.5 K/9 when healthy. The Brewers ultimately finished with a 96-66 record, netting them an NL Central Division title. Greinke got his only taste of postseason baseball that year but allowed an unsightly 12 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings. The Brewers lost in the NLCS to the Cardinals, who would go on to win the World Series. Greinke hurled 123 more innings for the Brew Crew in 2012, pitching to a 3.44 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 before being traded to the Angels. GM Doug Melvin landed Jean Segura, John Hellweg and Ariel Pena in that deal, but that's a whole different post.
- Yuniesky Betancourt: Betancourt hit a paltry .252/.271/.381 with the Brewers but still totaled 584 plate appearances in spite of that sub-par production. His defense was also well below-average, and the result was a mere 0.4 wins above replacement, per Fangraphs. Betancourt did manage to swat 13 homers that season — the second-highest mark of his career — but his lack of plate discipline and poor glove mitigated most of that value. He would go on to re-sign with the Royals as a free agent the following offseason and is now in the Phillies organization as a non-roster invitee.
- Alcides Escobar: Milwaukee's No. 3 prospect at the time of the trade (per BA) Escobar has blossomed into the Royals' everyday shortstop, posting fWAR marks of 2.2 and 2.6 in his first two seasons with Kansas City. He doesn't walk often (4.2 percent), but he's posted a respectable .274/.311/.368 triple slash line with Kansas City. That includes significant improvement from 2011-12, as his OPS+ jumped from 74 to 98 between the two years. He's developed into an elite base-stealer, collecting 61 swipes in 75 tries (81.3 percent). In 2012, he went 35-for-40 (87.5 percent). The Fielding Bible evaluates Escobar's defense at +12 runs during his time with Kansas City, while Ultimate Zone Rating feels he's been closer to average. Still just 26 years old, Escobar has room for growth.
- Lorenzo Cain: Cain's arrival as Kansas City's everyday center fielder was delayed by the acquisition of Melky Cabrera. Groin and thigh strains have cost Cain 98 games between his two seasons with the Royals, but he looks poised to take the reins as the team's everyday center fielder in 2013. It's a small sample, but Cain has a .266/.315/.410 batting line in 267 plate appearances with the Royals. His seven homers and ten steals translate to a 162-game average of 17 homers and 25 steals — a well-above average combination of power and speed for a center fielder. In 726 1/3 career innings in center, UZR/150 rates him at 14.4 runs above average, and The Fielding Bible agrees at +15 runs. He's excelled in the Minors for the Royals and is in the midst of an impressive Spring Training showing, but he'll already be 27 on April 13. Kansas City needs to let Cain play in order to determine if they have a long-term piece this season.
The Prospect Side
- Jake Odorizzi: Odorizzi made his big league debut for Kansas City in 2012, but totaled only 7 1/3 innings. Those will likely be the only innings he ever throws for the Royals, as GM Dayton Moore included the now-22-year-old in the James Shields trade. Odorizzi is BA's No. 92 prospect in all of baseball, and he ranks 45th on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's version of the same list. BA ranks him fifth among Rays prospects, praising his four average pitches (fastball, slider, curve, change-up) but noting that he lacks a true out pitch. Both BA and Mayo agree that Odorizzi has a chance to become a reliable No. 3 starter, but his ceiling is limited by average offerings across the board.
- Jeremy Jeffress: Jeffress' star has fallen considerably since he ranked as BA's No. 100 prospect prior to the 2009 season. Now 25 years of age, the Royals traded him to the Blue Jays for cash considerations this past November. Jeffress pitched 82 innings for Kansas City's Triple-A affiliate and maintained his strong strikeout rate (9.3 K/9) but walked too many (4.7 BB/9) and allowed nearly a hit per inning as well. He received a pair of call-ups to the big league club but walked 24 batters in 26 2/3 innings. He has the potential to be a power arm late in games, but he'll now look to fulfill that upside elsewhere.
In the end, the Brewers got an ace-caliber pitcher and an NLCS berth in exchange for the four prospects they dealt. Greinke managed to net them a trio of prospects including a new, promising shortstop to replace Escobar. Kansas City turned Greinke into an everyday shortstop, a promising center fielder and a pitching prospect that helped them acquire a new ace-caliber pitcher (Shields). However, the Royals are better positioned to compete with this top-of-the-rotation arm than they were the last time they had one.
Both teams fell a bit short of their best case scenarios (Milwaukee didn't win a World Series, and Kansas City cut ties with Jeffress for next to nothing), but this is a trade that definitely reaped benefits for each side.
Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Blue Jays have been one of the busiest teams this offseason, per MLBTR's Transaction Tracker. GM Alex Anthopoulos has traded a manager (John Farrell), hired his replacement (John Gibbons, his second stint in Toronto), acquired the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, and Esmil Rogers while signing free agents Melky Cabrera, Maicer Izturis, Henry Blanco, and Mark DeRosa. Is there anything left for Anthopoulos to do before pitchers and catchers report to Dunedin on February 12? MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm answered that question and others when he opened his inbox recently.
- The remaining moves the Blue Jays have left to make are minor league signings for organizational depth, writes Chisholm.
- The only real area of competition is the bullpen. Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos will battle to be the closer. Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress is a favorite to win a job, as he is out of options. Chisholm thinks Brandon Lyon would add a reliable veteran presence to the bullpen, but doesn't see the Blue Jays re-signing the right-hander because the team has reached its payroll limit.
- It appears Izturis received some sort of promise from the organization he would be the starting second baseman before agreeing to his three-year, $10MM deal, according to Chisholm. Look for Bonifacio to be used in a super utility role even though, in Chisholm's view, he has more upside than Izturis and would bring another element of speed to the lineup.
- Don't expect Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, both recovering from Tommy John surgery, to make a major impact until 2014.
- The Blue Jays' farm system has been weakened by the flurry of trades this offseason. Chisholm notes there's talent in the lower levels, which is at least three years away, but that isn't a concern for the Blue Jays because their core is tied up for a similar period at the big league level.
Four years ago today, the Yankees traded a package headlined by Wilson Betemit to the White Sox for Nick Swisher. After helping New York to the 2009 World Series and three other playoff appearances, Swisher is now in line for a big multiyear contract as a free agent this winter. Here's the latest from the AL East…
- Dan Martin of The New York Post reports that the Yankees have had "preliminary discussions" about bringing Raul Ibanez back as a platoon player next season. The 40-year-old played more than the club would have liked this year due to Brett Gardner's injury.
- The Orioles are telling teams that their priorities in the trade market are first base, left field, and DH according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli (on Twitter). GM Dan Duquette said several clubs match up well with their needs.
- Rival executives tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is "itching" to make a trade (Twitter link). Toronto is targeting starting pitching.
- Meanwhile, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm listed the Blue Jays' 12 out of options players (Twitter links): Brett Cecil, Rajai Davis, Jeremy Jeffress, Adam Lind, Jeff Mathis, Mike McCoy, Dustin McGowan, Luis Perez, Esmil Rogers, Sergio Santos, Cory Wade, and Bobby Wilson.
- Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wonders (on Twitter) how far the Red Sox will extend themselves to sign Mike Napoli now that there is competition from the Yankees. He notes that Boston went the extra mile to sign David Ross.
- Jerry Sands, who was acquired in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, could be a platoon answer for the Red Sox at first base or in either corner outfield spot, according to CSNNE.com.