The Royals announced Thursday evening they’ve signed lefty reliever Jake Brentz to a two-year contract. It’s a big league deal that reportedly guarantees $1.9MM with an additional $700K in attainable incentives. Brentz, a client of the Bledsoe Agency, will make $850K for the upcoming season and $1.05MM in 2024.
Kansas City created a 40-man roster spot yesterday by placing southpaw Ángel Zerpa on the 60-day injured list. They’ll likely soon do the same with Brentz. The 28-year-old underwent surgery to repair the UCL in his throwing elbow last July. He’ll miss most or all of this season but the Royals are clearly intrigued by the potential he brings for the 2024 campaign.
There’s no injured list over the offseason, so the Royals had to reinstate Brentz at the end of the ’22 season. Rather than carry him on the 40-man roster all winter, they designated him for assignment and opted not to tender him a contract. He lingered on the open market all winter but now returns to Kansas City. With Spring Training underway, the Royals can transfer him back to the 60-day IL whenever the need for a roster spot arises.
Initially an 11th-round draftee of the Blue Jays, Brentz was traded twice as a prospect. It wasn’t until following a 2019 release by the Pirates and subsequent signing with Kansas City that he got a big league opportunity, however. Brentz cracked the roster in 2021 and showed some promise as a rookie. He tossed 64 innings over 72 appearances, working to a 3.66 ERA while striking out an above-average 27.3% of opposing hitters. His 13.3% walk percentage was an obvious concern but the Missouri native averaged 96.9 MPH on his fastball and held left-handed batters to a woeful .116/.292/.203 line in 91 plate appearances.
Brentz entered 2022 as a fairly high-upside member of the K.C. relief corps. The season proved disastrous, though. He coughed up 15 runs and walked 10 in only 5 1/3 innings in April. His fastball velocity was down a tick. At the end of the month, Kansas City placed him on the injured list with a flexor injury in his forearm. A few months later, the club announced he’d go under the knife.
Kansas City’s front office is obviously willing to chalk up that disastrous first month to injury. They’ll roll the dice for little more than the league minimum to see if Brentz can return to his 2021 form after the surgery rehab. It’s equally easy to see the appeal of this deal from the player’s perspective. He’ll secure a guaranteed salary and a 40-man roster spot while collecting major league service for time spent on the injured list. He’ll get to rehab for an organization with which he’s familiar and try to again secure a bullpen job down the line.
Brentz has exactly two years of major league service time. He’ll still be eligible for arbitration twice more once this contract runs out, meaning Kansas City again controls his rights through the end of the 2026 campaign. If he can get back on track, he could again profile as an affordable bullpen piece for multiple seasons.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post first reported the $1.9MM guarantee and incentives. Anne Rogers of MLB.com was first with the financial breakdown.
Buuba ho tep
deGrom Texas Ranger
A WHIP of almost 4 is quite impressive. He only needed 30 or so consecutive scoreless innings last year to normalize that ERA. Maybe, he will find the fountain of youth and pull a Verlander.
In 5 and a third innings. 9 strike outs is a lot too.
He did manage to throw two wild pitches and hit a guy. There was also an unearned run in there. Based on the way everything else went for him, I’m guessing he committed the error that led to it.
Buuba ho tep
How did this guy get a major league deal? Let alone a multi year pact.
Because he is a good pitcher and because he’s not even arb eligible yet and this will cost them next to nothing.
What makes you think he is a good pitcher?
Because he’s Jake Brentz?
Because he showed flashes of talent as a hard throwing lefty killer. Outside of his disastrous injury marred season he has been pretty solid with the Royals, and I imagine they are banking that a healthy Brentz is closer to that guy than what we saw last year
Really banking on an improvement from his *check notes* ERA in the 20s
something in the tens would be good.
0-3 23.63 ERA. Legendary. Only the lowly Royals would ever consider this grounds for an extension.
It really is incredible how many of you bozos in the comments are talking about his 5 innings of work last year like it means anything at all lol
It’s amazing to all of us that you think “5 innings” is all you have to do to get a two year contract. Yes,I’m speaking for all of us on here.
Hey dingus I LITERALLY JUST SAID it means nothing.
Your face means nothing.
deGrom Texas Ranger
Let me point out to you that he hasn’t had a single good minor league season either. He had a good MLB season, followed by a tragic meltdown of epic proportions. It’s probably the highest ERA ever for someone with 5 and 1/3 innings or more.
It definitely isn’t and also would ya stop acting like 5 innings means anything
deGrom Texas Ranger
I will not. Also, who has a higher ERa in that many innings? You are the one using playground insults here. Get over it. Some people don’t like this guy. You can, but don’t be rude about it.
Brentz is shouting “let’s go!” In the photo.
Great deal. No risk, potentially high rewerd. I mean, obviously hard to know if last year was a blip or not yet, but for less than $1 million per year? Might as well check.
The Royals are honestly hard to watch. Just a bad bad organization.
Royals are not trying