The Brewers released Jeremy Jeffress today, but before parting ways with the former All-Star, Milwaukee tried shopping the reliever within the NL Central. The Athletic’s Robert Murray reported back in July that the Brewers and Pirates were discussing a trade that involved Keone Kela, and Murray reports today that a Jeffress-for-Kela swap was floated between the division rivals, though “talks never gained traction.”
While the Bucs were (and possibly still are) open to moving Kela in trade negotiations, the controversial right-hander isn’t necessarily a totally expendable piece for the Pirates, whereas Jeffress was clearly no longer in Milwaukee’s plans, as GM David Stearns indicated today to Murray and other reporters. While Stearns left the door open for a potential reunion with Jeffress down the road, the reliever was hampered by a lack of trust in his splitter and a loss of velocity, possibly due to a heavy workload in 2018 or a shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of Spring Training. “I think his arsenal changed this year. That’s something that’s been well documented, not only with the fastball velocity but with the loss of a pitch that had become extremely important in his repertoire,” Stearns said. “When you lose a pitch, you have to become a different pitcher and it’s certainly possible that Jeremy can become a different pitcher and be effective. We just didn’t see it consistently enough to count on him at any point this year.”
Here’s more from around the NL Central…
- The Cubs received a twin dose of injury scares on Sunday when Yu Darvish was scratched from his start due to right forearm tightness. In that same game, Javier Baez suffered a sore neck and a jammed left thumb after sliding into Orlando Arcia’s knee during a third-inning steal of second base. Baez stayed in the game before being removed in the seventh, and while he may miss a game or two, x-rays were negative on his hand and the shortstop expects to be fine. Darvish’s injury is more ominous, particularly since the righty has been dealing with the issue for his last five outings, as pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including MLB.com’s Russell Dorsey). Despite the late scratch, Maddon thinks Darvish will be ready to make his next turn in the rotation. Needless to say, the Cubs can’t afford to lose any key contributors given the tight status of both the NL Central and NL wild card races.
- Eugenio Suarez left the Reds’ 5-3 win over the Cardinals tonight after being hit on the left hand during a fifth inning plate appearance. Suarez will be evaluated tomorrow after the swelling subsides. The third baseman has continued to be an offensive force for the Reds (.261/.342/.546 with 40 home runs in 568 plate appearances) despite a worrying spike in swing-and-miss, as Suarez has a league-high 161 strikeouts.
- The Reds’ pitching has gone from a major weakness in 2018 to a strength in 2019, and while some new acquisitions like Sonny Gray and (the since-traded) Tanner Roark played a part in that improvement, Cincinnati’s biggest addition might have been pitching coach Derek Johnson. C. Trent Rosecrans and Eno Sarris of The Athletic (subscription required) break down how several of the Reds’ arms have changed their tactics from last season now that they’re under Johnson’s tutelage.