Today: The deal between Joe Ross and the Brewers is worth a guaranteed $1.75MM, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic. The contract also includes unspecified financial incentives.
December 4: The Brewers and right-hander Joe Ross are in agreement on a major league deal, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. The details of the deal, which is pending a physical for the Wasserman client, aren’t publicly known at this time.
Ross, 31 in May, has dealt with significant injury issues in his career and is coming off another notable absence. He underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2022, the second time he required that procedure, the first one coming in 2017. He signed a minor league deal with the Giants for 2023 and was able to get back on the mound by late August, starting a rehab assignment at that time. He eventually tossed 14 innings over eight appearances on the farm with a 5.14 earned run average in that small sample.
It would appear that the Brewers were intrigued by that showing, or perhaps his larger body of work and previous prospect pedigree. A 5.14 ERA is obviously not going to blow anyone away, but the fact that he was healthy and on the mound is the more important thing. As relayed by Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the righty’s velocity was in good shape at Triple-A late last year, actually above his previous seasons.
Ross was once a highly-touted prospect, having been drafted 25th overall by the Padres in 2011. He later debuted with the Nationals and posted a combined 3.52 ERA over 181 2/3 innings between 2015 and 2016. But he was limited to 13 starts in 2017 before, as mentioned, he required Tommy John. He missed most of 2018 and then posted middling results in 2019. He elected to sit out the shortened 2020 season and then had a 4.17 ERA in 2021 before suffering another partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. He tried to rehab that injury via non-surgical means at first but eventually underwent his second TJS in May of 2022.
The Brewers probably can’t rely on Ross to suddenly take on a full stater’s workload. With his injuries and opting out of 2020, he’s only twice reached the 80-inning plateau in a major league season, in 2016 and 2021. Even in those two seasons, he was barely over the century mark. Perhaps the Brewers will end up deploying him in something of a swing role or as a multi-inning pitcher out of the bullpen, but that could depend on how he looks in Spring Training or what other moves the club makes before then.
The club also agreed to a deal with left-hander Wade Miley today, which means their current rotation projects as Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Miley, Adrian Houser and Colin Rea. Ross could perhaps try to force his way into the back end, particularly if an injury creates a new need. There’s also been plenty of rumors about the club considering a trade of Burnes, which would bump Ross and everyone else up one spot on the depth chart.
All teams deal with pitching injuries and it takes more than five starters to get through a full 162-game season. The Brewers also have Janson Junk and Aaron Ashby on the 40-man roster with prospects like Robert Gasser and Jacob Misiorowski pushing towards their major league debuts. Ross figures to be in the mix somewhere, with his eventual contributions dependant on his health and the circumstances around him.