The Brewers are signing free agent reliever Jake McGee to a major league contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (Twitter link). The southpaw was released by the Giants last week. McGee is a Wasserman client.
McGee will try to find his footing in Milwaukee after a rough first half in the Bay Area. The veteran worked 21 1/3 innings though 24 appearances, posting a grisly 7.17 ERA. He punched out only 11.5% of opponents on a meager 8.7% swinging strike rate, a bizarre downturn in performance. McGee is only a season removed from serving as one of the Giants most trusted relievers. He posted a 2.59 ERA across 59 2/3 frames last season, punching out a solid 24.3% of batters faced that year.
While the extent of his struggles became too much for the Giants to overlook, it’s easy enough to understand why he found another opportunity rather quickly. Aside from a rough four-year stretch in Colorado, the 35-year-old (36 next month) has been a reliable reliever for the bulk of his 13-year MLB career. In addition to last year’s strong work, he was flat-out dominant with the Dodgers in 2020. During the shortened season, he posted a 2.66 ERA while striking out north of 40% of batters faced.
While McGee’s strikeouts and whiffs have fallen off, he’s not seen a notable drop in fastball velocity. He’s averaging 94.7 MPH on the heater to which he turns more than 85% of the time. That’s virtually unchanged from last year’s 94.9 MPH mark, and he’s continued to pound the strike zone effectively.
There’s little cost for the Brewers in seeing if they can get him missing bats again. McGee is playing this season on a $2.5MM salary, and he’ll take home a $500K buyout on what would’ve been a 2023 club option. The Giants remain on the hook for that money, with the Brewers paying McGee just the prorated portion of the $700K league minimum for whatever time he spends on the active roster. Milwaukee already had a vacancy on the 40-man roster, so they’ll only need to make a corresponding 26-man move once McGee reports to the team.