Here are a few reliever-related items from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link):
- Despite the presence of Jonathan Papelbon, the Nationals will likely be in the hunt for Yankees closers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller if the Bombers make them available over the summer, Rosenthal reports. The Nats were interested in both as recently as the winter, according to Rosenthal, who cautions that their ownership might not allow the franchise to take on payroll during the season. Both Chapman ($11.33MM) and Miller ($9MM) are expensive, and the Nationals been restricted to cash-neutral trades at recent deadlines.
- In order to deal closer Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers could require a return similar to the mammoth haul the Phillies received from the Astros for Ken Giles, per Rosenthal. The rebuilding Brewers and Jeffress have built a strong relationship thanks to the team’s role in helping the right-hander overcome his past marijuana issues. Because of that, Jeffress turned down major league offers from other clubs to sign a minor league contract with the Brewers two years ago, Rosenthal relays. In his first season as a closer, the 28-year-old has converted all seven save opportunities while allowing three earned runs in 8 2/3 innings. In 160 2/3 major league innings, Jeffress has compiled a 3.14 ERA to accompany an 8.4 K/9, 3.87 BB/9 and 57.1 percent ground-ball rate. Those are quality numbers, but they’re a far cry from the dominant stats Giles posted before the Astros dealt a Vincent Velasquez-headlined package for him over the winter. Giles is also three years younger than Jeffress, won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2018, and isn’t scheduled for free agency until after the 2020 season. Jeffress, meanwhile, has three arbitration-eligible years before he’ll be able to hit the open market.
- With contention looking unlikely for the injury-plagued Angels, setup man Joe Smith is a good bet to find himself in another uniform in the coming months, says Rosenthal. Smith, who’s making $5.25MM in a contract year, has thrown 155 innings of 2.73 ERA ball dating back to 2014, including 15 frames with a 3.60 mark this season. It’s early, of course, but Smith has fanned only eight hitters this season while generating far fewer ground balls (45.8 percent versus a lifetime 56.4 mark) and surrendering much more hard contact (twice his career rate, in fact, at 49 percent compared to 24.5 percent).