FEB. 16: FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweets that Jepsen’s deal comes with a $2.25MM base salary upon making the Major League roster.
FEB. 13: The Diamondbacks announced that they’ve signed veteran right-hander Kevin Jepsen to a minor league deal. Arizona also announced its previously reportedly minors deal with Brian Matusz this morning as well, giving them a pair of experienced arms to add to their Spring Training mix. Jepsen is represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
Now 32 years of age, Jepsen enjoyed a career year in 2015 with the Rays and Twins, but he split the 2016 season between the same two clubs and struggled through the worst full season of his career. Traded from the Angels to the Rays in the 2014-15 offseason, Jepsen opened the year with 41 2/3 innings of 2.81 ERA ball for Tampa Bay that season. The Twins, who were surprising contenders in 2015, traded a pair of minor league arms (Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia) to the Rays to get Jepsen at the deadline, and he pitched brilliantly in Minnesota down the stretch. In 28 inning for the Twins, Jepsen logged a pristine 1.61 ERA with a 25-to-7 K/BB ratio, and he ultimately picked up 10 saves after Glen Perkins was injured late in the year.
A second Perkins injury early in the 2016 season again put Jepsen back into the ninth inning in Minnesota, but he faltered the second time around. Jepsen saw his strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates all take significant steps in the wrong direction in 2016, and the Twins eventually released him after 30 2/3 innings of 6.16 ERA ball. Jepsen latched back on with the Rays but wasn’t able to right the ship, as he logged a 5.68 ERA in 19 innings during his second stint with the Rays.
While the 2016 campaign was obviously a disaster for Jepsen, he posted a combined 2.47 ERA in 134 2/3 innings from 2014-15 and a cumulative 2.93 ERA in 215 1/3 innings from 2012-15. Jepsen’s heated no longer averages the 95-96 mph that it did in its peak, and his average fastball velocity did dip to a career-low 92.8 mph with the Rays last season. He averaged 93.6 mph on the season as a whole, though, and his 94.4 mph average velocity in his excellent 2015 campaign suggests that he doesn’t need to regain all of his heat to experience success.
MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert first reported the deal (via Twitter).