The Angels have agreed to a deal with lefty Dan Jennings, according to reports. It’s a minor-league deal with a camp invitation. Jennings would earn $1MM in the majors, with up to $500K in incentives, per Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter).
Jennings was non-tendered by the Brewers at the outset of the winter. He had projected to earn a $1.6MM salary but was instead kicked back to the open market. Now, he’ll have to earn his way into the Halos’ relief unit.
The 31-year-old southpaw, who’s just one MLB service day shy of reaching his sixth full season, has produced nothing but good outcomes in the majors. Through 344 career innings, he carries a 2.96 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. It was more of the same last year, as he provided the Brewers with 64 1/3 frames of 3.22 ERA ball.
Clearly, teams aren’t buying into the results. ERA estimators don’t either. Over his career, Jennings carries a 3.83 FIP, 4.05 xFIP, and 4.00 SIERA. He does get a lot of groundballs, with a 55.4% career rate, but otherwise stands out mostly for allowing opposing hitters to put the ball over the fence just 0.63 times per nine innings over the course of his seven seasons.
Whether that home run suppression is sustainable is probably the key question with regard to Jennings. He has seen his HR/FB rate jump in the last two years (21.1% and 13.3%) after sitting in single digits for every prior season, though he gets so many grounders that there still aren’t too many balls leaving the yard. It’s notable, too, that he has induced infield flies at better than the league average rate over the past four seasons, which perhaps also helps explain why he has found so much success despite ho-hum K/BB numbers.
In any event, this seems to be a no-brainer of a low-risk move for the Angels, who possess little in the way of lefty relievers. As things stand, the 40-man features Williams Jerez, Dillon Peters, and Jose Suarez as possible options, though the latter two seem likelier to serve as rotation depth. It certainly seems that Jennings will have the inside track on a big-league job.