The Milwaukee Brewers were expected to be in on free agent starter Jordan Lyles. He won’t be coming back to Milwaukee in 2020 as he’s just signed a two-year deal with the Texas Rangers.
Jordan Lyles enjoyed a late season resurgence with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019, and has parlayed his success into a two-year deal worth $16 million with the Texas Rangers. Another name goes off the board, and the Milwaukee Brewers still haven’t added a free agent starter. Is this a miss for GM David Stearns or did he dodge a bullet?
How good was Lyles with the Brewers last year?
Lyles was dominant for the Brewers. He made 11 starts for Milwaukee in the second half of the season, and he managed a 2.45 ERA in 58 2/3 innings of work. Lyles struck out 56, walked 22, and allowed nine homers as a member of the Brew Crew in 2019.
He also owned really, really ugly peripheral numbers. His xFIP was 4.91, indicating that he was essentially the same guy he’s always been, but balls hit in play were finding gloves a bit more often. His .285 BABIP against was also over 20 points below his career average, and supports that Lyles’ success was more of a statistical variance than a true breakout.
Did the Rangers overpay for Lyles?
Two years with an average annual value of $8 million? That sounds like an overpay. Lyles has shown a few solid stretches in his career, but he’s never posted an ERA under 4.00 in his Major League career.
FanGraphs was one of the few sites to offer a prediction on Lyles’ future contract, and they had him with a two-year deal with a $6 million-to-$7 million average annual value.
It looks like the Rangers overpaid for Lyles a bit, but it won’t break their budget.
Should the Brewers have gone harder after Lyles?
If that means outbidding the Rangers AAV of $8 million per year, then no, the Brewers should not have gone harder for Lyles’ services. Milwaukee has cleared a ton of payroll by non-tendering five players and missing out on Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas, but spending $9 million in 2020 and 2021 for Lyles isn’t the right way to spend. Looking to add Madison Bumgarner or Dallas Keuchel for more money makes a lot more sense for the Brewers’ starting staff.
Lyles had a great run in Milwaukee, but it was just that, a run of success. Almost all of his peripheral numbers indicate that he was getting by with smoke and mirrors. The Brewers currently need a few candidates for roles in their rotation, but Lyles wouldn’t have been a difference maker. The team is better off looking to make a splash than trying to bring back a starter who boosted his value with two really good months.