SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Royals signed lefty Jake Brentz to a two-year Major League deal as he rehabs from left elbow surgery he had midseason last year.
The contract is fully guaranteed, a source told MLB.com, and Brentz will make $850,000 in 2023 and $1.05 million in ’24.
The 28-year-old reliever from St. Louis made his MLB debut in 2021 with Kansas City and pitched in high-leverage situations throughout the year. Brentz went 5-2 with two saves and posted a 3.66 ERA across 64 innings as a rookie, leading the Royals with 72 appearances.
Brentz opened the 2022 season with Kansas City but pitched in only eight games while trying to play through injury. He went on the injured list at the end of April with a left flexor strain. After trying to come back without surgery, Brentz eventually had season-ending Tommy John surgery at the end of July. A typical recovery from Tommy John is one year, so Brentz could make rehab appearances in the second half of this season.
Brentz elected free agency shortly after the Royals designated him for assignment in November, but Kansas City was always interested in bringing him back. The two-year Major League deal keeps Brentz in the organization after he rehabbed with the Royals for all of 2022 rather than losing him to another team on a one-year deal. Brentz also would have been arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, so this deal buys out one year but still gives the club two years of control.
The Royals also can start building out their bullpen with Brentz in 2024, given that Amir Garrett and Aroldis Chapman are free agents after this year and Scott Barlow is a free agent after the ’24 season.
Brentz, who regularly sat 95-100 mph with his fastball, has a nasty slider that batters hit .191 off of in 2021 and also incorporates a solid changeup at times. He brings closer potential to the Royals’ bullpen if he’s able to return to form after surgery.
Brentz’s signing brings the Royals’ roster to a full 40 players, but he will likely go on the 60-day injured list once the Royals need a roster spot before Opening Day.
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