The Chicago Cubs have finally signed a free agent to a full Major League contract. Jeremy Jeffress, a reliever for the Milwaukee Brewers, has inked a reported one-year deal with the Cubs, pending his physical.
Jeff Passan was the first to report the signing on Twitter, detailing that the deal is for $850,000 and is a guaranteed Major League contract. According to Passan, Jeffress can earn an additional $200,000 that is contingent on the number of games pitched.
While the Cubs have made a few other moves this season, they have been highlighted by many for their lack of guaranteed roster spots. Until the Jeffress signing, all announced free-agent deals from the club have been what are known as split contracts. These are Minor League deals with various incentives attached to them, should the player make the Major League roster.
The reliever is entering his 11th year in the big leagues and for the most part, he has had success coming out of the pen. The exception to that was his 2019 season with Milwaukee. Last year, the hurler posted a 5.02 earned run average in 48 appearances.
That was a steep increase over his career numbers. Jeffress has just a 3.02 ERA and a record of 28-11 during his time with four different teams. All but one of his lifetime appearances on the mound were as a reliever. Interestingly, the newest Chicago Cub has had four different stops just up the road in Milwaukee over the course of his career. The Brewers are the team he broke into the big leagues with, back in 2010.
Jeffress made the All-Star team in 2018 with Milwaukee after posting an 8-1 record and a 1.29 earned run average. Despite that success the year prior, he didn't manage to stick on the Brewers' roster for the entirety of the 2019 season.
In September of last year, he was released after being designated for assignment. The Brewers apparently couldn't find any takers for him through the waiver wire.
The signee, assuming it becomes official after his physical, is another part of the Cubs' apparent strategy of signing relief pitchers in bulk and seeing who can make the team out of spring training. Of course, Jeffress' Major League deal means the front office is expecting him to make the team, as they would have to release him and pay him the guaranteed $850,000 should he stumble and not qualify.
The Jeffress signing is the latest in what is a small flurry of activity from the Cubs. Earlier this week it was reported the team had signed outfielder Steven Sousa Jr. The details of that contract haven't been revealed, but analysts have projected that to be a split deal as well. The biggest free agent news of the week for Theo Epstein and company has actually been about the one that got away. Former Cubs slugger Nick Castellanos signed a new free agent contract on Monday with division rival Cincinnati Reds.