The Nationals have agreed to a deal with righty Kevin Jepsen, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter link). It’s a minors pact with a July 26th opt-out opportunity, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets.
Jepsen, who’ll soon turn 33, recently put on a showcase in hopes of landing a new opportunity. He spent the spring with the Diamondbacks, but struggled in game action and was released before the start of the season.
There’s no sugar-coating Jepsen’s struggles in 2016. He threw 49 2/3 innings of 5.98 ERA ball for the Twins and Rays, with only 6.3 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9. Though he didn’t lose much on his mid-nineties fastball, Jepsen posted a 8.3% swinging-strike rate that fell short of his numbers over the prior two seasons.
If the drop in strikeouts wasn’t enough, Jepsen also struggled to manage contact, permitting hard contact at a career-worst 37.5% rate. Once a strong groundball pitcher, he managed to induce them at only a 31.1% clip while also allowing 2.2 homers per nine innings.
Still, there’s probably some hope of a return to form. Jepsen carried a 2.33 ERA over 69 2/3 innings in 2015 and was able to post 10.1 K/9 in his successful 2014 campaign. The Nationals will take a look at him over the coming weeks, just as they are doing with veteran Francisco Rodriguez, as the team decides upon a course of action at the trade deadline.