The Nationals have reached an agreement with right-hander Jeremy Jeffress on a minor league deal, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter links). Jeffress will earn $1.25MM if he reaches the Nats’ big league roster, plus he can earn up to $1.25MM more in bonuses.
Jeffress has been an effective reliever for most of his 11 seasons in the majors, and was an All-Star as recently as the 2018 season when pitching for the Brewers. He struggled in 2019, however, posting a 5.02 ERA with a 48.4% grounder rate that marked the only time the groundball specialist had fallen under the 50% threshold over a full season.
Jeffress had a rebound with the Cubs last season, delivering a 1.54 ERA and 54.4% grounder rate over 23 1/3 innings and allowing only a single home run. However, Jeffress benefited from a tiny .161 BABIP against some otherwise unimpressive Statcast numbers, and his .496 SIERA painted a much uglier picture of Jeffress’ performance. His 19.3K% and 13.6BB% were also well below average.
At the cost of just a Spring Training invitation, there isn’t any risk to the Nationals in taking a look to see if Jeffress can still contribute as he enters his age-33 season. Jeffress joins Luis Avilan, Javy Guerra, Aaron Barrett, and T.J. McFarland as veteran relievers on minor league deals in Washington’s camp.