DECEMBER 21, 7:31pm: In a new tweet, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com breaks down the full details of Gallardo’s deal. The $2MM in incentives are based on innings pitched, or relief appearances. The righty will earn $100K for reaching milestones of 50, 65 and 80 IP, $150 for 95 and 110 IP thresholds, $200K for reaching 125 and 140 IP, and $250K for 155, 170 and 185 IP marks. Gallardo can also earn $50K for reaching 30 and 40 relief appearances, and $75K when he makes 50 and 60 relief appearances.
11:39am: MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets out an important note regarding the $2MM salary: it’ll only apply should Gallardo crack the Opening Day roster, meaning it isn’t fully guaranteed. McCalvy further notes the incentives can be achieved either by innings or appearances, allowing him some earning possibilities regardless of role.
11:55am: Gallardo’s signing has been announced. He’ll be promised $2MM and can double that via incentives, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter).
4:53pm: The Brewers and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo have agreed to a contract, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Details of the pact aren’t yet available. Gallardo is an Octagon client.
This move represents a homecoming of sorts for the soon-to-be 32-year-old Gallardo, whose greatest major league success has come in a Brewers uniform. A second-round pick of the Brewers in 2004, Gallardo debuted in the majors in 2007 and ultimately served as a front-of-the-rotation presence with the club through 2014. During that eight-season span, Gallardo racked up 1,289 1/3 innings – tossing fewer than 180 frames in just two individual campaigns – and recorded a 3.69 ERA with 8.56 K/9, 3.31 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent groundball rate. He also earned an All-Star nod, the only one of his career, in 2010.
While Gallardo was terrific during his first go-around in Milwaukee, he has significantly declined since it traded him to Texas in a January 2015 deal involving now-Brewers closer Corey Knebel and others. Gallardo’s results were appealing with the Rangers that season (184 1/3 innings of 3.42 ERA ball), but he fell off in earnest after inking a three-year, $35MM contract to join the Orioles heading into 2016. Between Baltimore and Seattle, where he spent last season after going to the Mariners in a January trade for outfielder Seth Smith, Gallardo posted a 5.57 ERA with 6.48 K/9 against 4.38 BB/9 across 248 2/3 innings and 51 appearances (45 starts).
Despite his woes last season, Gallardo did offer some encouraging signs in the form of a velocity increase, his highest swinging-strike rate (8.3 percent) since 2011 and a career-best infield fly percentage (16.3). The Brewers will obviously hope those gains carry over, though it’s unclear if Gallardo will slot into their rotation immediately or occupy a swingman role in his return to Milwaukee. Gallardo’s struggles as a starter last year forced him into the bullpen for the first time in his career, and the Mariners subsequently bought him out in November for $2MM in lieu of keeping him aboard with a $13MM club option.
The Brewers were among the majors’ surprising success stories during an 86-win 2017, but they’ll head into 2018 without top starter Jimmy Nelson, who will miss time after undergoing shoulder surgery in September. Now, they’re down to Chase Anderson and Zach Davies atop a rotation mix that could clearly use more help beyond Gallardo (depth chart). It’s reasonable to expect general manager David Stearns to make further pitching additions, then, whether via free agency, the trade market or both.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.