4:53pm: The Brewers and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo have agreed to a contract, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Details of the pact aren’t yet available. Gallardo is an Octagon client.
This move represents a homecoming of sorts for the soon-to-be 32-year-old Gallardo, whose greatest major league success has come in a Brewers uniform. A second-round pick of the Brewers in 2004, Gallardo debuted in the majors in 2007 and ultimately served as a front-of-the-rotation presence with the club through 2014. During that eight-season span, Gallardo racked up 1,289 1/3 innings – tossing fewer than 180 frames in just two individual campaigns – and recorded a 3.69 ERA with 8.56 K/9, 3.31 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent groundball rate. He also earned an All-Star nod, the only one of his career, in 2010.
While Gallardo was terrific during his first go-around in Milwaukee, he has significantly declined since it traded him to Texas in a January 2015 deal involving now-Brewers closer Corey Knebel and others. Gallardo’s results were appealing with the Rangers that season (184 1/3 innings of 3.42 ERA ball), but he fell off in earnest after inking a three-year, $35MM contract to join the Orioles heading into 2016. Between Baltimore and Seattle, where he spent last season after going to the Mariners in a January trade for outfielder Seth Smith, Gallardo posted a 5.57 ERA with 6.48 K/9 against 4.38 BB/9 across 248 2/3 innings and 51 appearances (45 starts).
Despite his woes last season, Gallardo did offer some encouraging signs in the form of a velocity increase, his highest swinging-strike rate (8.3 percent) since 2011 and a career-best infield fly percentage (16.3). The Brewers will obviously hope those gains carry over, though it’s unclear if Gallardo will slot into their rotation immediately or occupy a swingman role in his return to Milwaukee. Gallardo’s struggles as a starter last year forced him into the bullpen for the first time in his career, and the Mariners subsequently bought him out in November for $2MM in lieu of keeping him aboard with a $13MM club option.
The Brewers were among the majors’ surprising success stories during an 86-win 2017, but they’ll head into 2018 without top starter Jimmy Nelson, who will miss time after undergoing shoulder surgery in September. Now, they’re down to Chase Anderson and Zach Davies atop a rotation mix that could clearly use more help beyond Gallardo (depth chart). It’s reasonable to expect general manager David Stearns to make further pitching additions, then, whether via free agency, the trade market or both.
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