Jeremy Jeffress had a fine year for the Cubs in 2020, posting a 1.54 ERA and 0.943 WHIP in 22 appearances. He filled in capably while Craig Kimbrel wasn’t saving games; Jeffress posted eight saves in 10 chances, and allowed runs in only three of the 22 outings.
He’s 33 and likely would not be expensive, and the Cubs are apparently talking with him about a return:
Jeffress has posted a sub-2.00 ERA and sub-1.000 WHIP in two of the past three seasons (including 2020), ranking 5th among MLB relievers in ERA since the start of 2018. His effectiveness against both RH (.206) and LH (.211) since start of 2018 explains why he’s gaining attention.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 18, 2021
Now, while those numbers are good, Jeffress’ peripherals aren’t great. He’s not really a strikeout pitcher, with just 6.6 per nine innings in 2020. And he walked too many guys in 2020, 4.6 per nine innings. The good WHIP comes from allowing just 10 hits — and only one home run.
Jeffress’ fastball, per Fangraphs, was at the lowest velocity of his career, 93.3 miles per hour, during the 2020 season. But he also relied on it less than any other season, throwing it just 41.5 percent of the time. His out pitch was generally a splitter (33.5 percent), which he could throw at 88.8 miles per hour. The splitter was a new pitch for Jeffress in 2020 — the Fangraphs chart doesn’t list him as throwing it at all before last year.
At this stage of his career Jeffress isn’t going to be expensive. He’s never made more than $3.175 million in any one season (that was in 2019 after his excellent 2018 season). He made $850,000 in 2020 (before pro-ration). At this point he might want a two-year deal and I think the Cubs could do that — perhaps two years, $5 million?
Maybe they could trade Kimbrel if they ate half his contract. Jeffress could close and the Cubs could save some money.
Who says no?
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... should be signed by the Cubs for the amount listed in the article
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