The Milwaukee Brewers released veteran reliever Jeremy Jeffress late last season. Is there any chance for a reunion?
Jeremy Jeffress and the Milwaukee Brewers go way back. The Crew drafted Jeffress out of high school in the first round of the 2006 Draft. They stood by him through some drug suspensions in the minor leagues, traded him to Kansas City in the Zack Greinke deal, then brought him back a few years later as a free agent.
Jeffress struggled in Kansas City and then Toronto afterward. He came back to Milwaukee in 2014 and thrived since then. He was a dominant reliever for the Brewers in 2015 and 2016, before getting traded to Texas and struggling there. The Rangers traded him back a year later in 2017 and once again thrived in a Brewers uniform.
He put up his best season yet in 2018, posting a 1.29 ERA in 73 appearances and pushing that Brewers team to the brink of the World Series.
For whatever reason, Jeffress has simply pitched better when he’s with the Brewers than when he’s with anyone else. With a strong support system and a feeling of comfort with the club, the two are a natural pair.
That unraveled in 2019 with Jeffress posting a 5.02 ERA and getting released before the end of the season.
Could Jeffress Return To The Brewers?
By now, every team around the league is well aware of Jeffress’ ability and that he’s only at his best when he’s with the Brewers. With Milwaukee, Jeffress has a career 2.66 ERA. Everywhere else, he has a combined 4.76 ERA. At this point in his career, that’s no fluke.
Jeffress remains a free agent and why should any other team pursue him when they know he’s not going to perform at his best with them since they are not the Brewers? There hasn’t been much reported interest in him since free agency began.
There were some rumors the Reds were interested in Jeffress, trying to reunite him with pitching coach Derek Johnson, but that was back in September immediately after his release and nothing has happened since then.
So, yes, there still is a chance that Jeffress could return to Milwaukee, if they’re willing to have him. Jeffress has little to no leverage at this point given a lack of other suitors and having a poor season in 2019.
What Could Jeffress Cost?
It’s very possible that Jeffress would have to sign a minor league contract to return to the Brewers in 2020. His bullpen spot wouldn’t be guaranteed but he’d have a chance to compete for one.
Jeffress earned $3.175 million in 2019 and would’ve had a club option for $4.3 million for 2020, had the Brewers not released him in September.
If the Brewers were to re-sign him to a contract, the guaranteed money would assuredly be below that $4.3 million mark. How far below is anyone’s guess, however.
Jeffress can be a great buy-low signing, that could have a great reward with minimal risk. He’s proven time and again that he can thrive with the Brewers and can be one of the best relievers in the league when he’s on his game. His best chance of being on his game is with Milwaukee and both sides know that.
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Perhaps the Brewers have completely moved on and don’t want to deal with Jeffress anymore. But at 32 years old, there’s plenty of miles left on Jeffress’ arm and Milwaukee is his best bet at success.