6:36pm: Brentz is guaranteed $1.9MM over the two seasons, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (on Twitter). The deal also contains $700K in potential incentives.
6:12pm: The Royals announced they’ve signed free agent reliever Jake Brentz to a two-year contract. It’s a big league deal for the Bledsoe Agency client, tweets Anne Rogers of MLB.com.
Kansas City created a 40-man roster spot yesterday by placing southpaw Ángel Zerpa on the 60-day injured list. They’ll likely soon do the same with Brentz. The 28-year-old underwent surgery to repair the UCL in his throwing elbow last July. He’ll miss most or all of this season but the Royals are clearly intrigued by the potential he brings for the 2024 campaign.
There’s no injured list over the offseason, so the Royals had to reinstate Brentz at the end of the ’22 season. Rather than carry him on the 40-man roster all winter, they designated him for assignment and opted not to tender him a contract. He lingered on the open market all winter but now returns to Kansas City. With Spring Training underway, the Royals can transfer him back to the 60-day IL whenever the need for a roster spot arises.
Initially an 11th-round draftee of the Blue Jays, Brentz was traded twice as a prospect. It wasn’t until following a 2019 release by the Pirates and subsequent signing with Kansas City that he got a big league opportunity, however. Brentz cracked the roster in 2021 and showed some promise as a rookie. He tossed 64 innings over 72 appearances, working to a 3.66 ERA while striking out an above-average 27.3% of opposing hitters. His 13.3% walk percentage was an obvious concern but the Missouri native averaged 96.9 MPH on his fastball and held left-handed batters to a woeful .116/.292/.203 line in 91 plate appearances.
Brentz entered 2022 as a fairly high-upside member of the K.C. relief corps. The season proved disastrous, though. He coughed up 15 runs and walked 10 in only 5 1/3 innings of work in April. His fastball veracity was down a tick. At the end of the month, Kansas City placed him on the injured list with a flexor injury in his forearm. A few months later, the club announced he’d go under the knife.
Kansas City’s front office is obviously willing to chalk up that disastrous first month to injury. They’ll roll the dice on what’s assuredly a low-cost flier on Brentz to return to his 2021 form after the surgery rehab. It’s equally easy to see the appeal of this deal from Brentz’s…
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