Brewers Jeremy Jeffress Trade Should Net Big Haul

By: Mark Prott

Recent Aroldis Chapman trade to Cubs should be model for asking price

Amid all the speculation, rumors and trade ideas surrounding Milwaukee Brewers Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, it has been a bit surprising to not see more trade talk surrounding the Brewers other big fish in the pond on the trade market, relief pitcher and suddenly dominant closer Jeremy Jeffress. Of course, with the trade deadline less than a week away and the recent New York Yankees trade of closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, talk surrounding the Brewers hurler seems to be ramping up. MLB Network’s Jim Duquette says that Brewers General Manager David Stearns has a high asking price on a return for a Jeffress deal.

So in other words, the Brewers are asking for the same type of deal the Yankees received after they landed # 1 Cubs prospect shortstop Gleyber Torres in the Chapman deal. On the surface, one might think no way is Jeffress going to have the same value as Chapman. But when we dig a little deeper it couldn’t be more true that Jeffress should be worth at least the same type of top prospect on the level of Torres, rated by Baseball America as the #27th overall prospect in Major League Baseball.

Sure Aroldis Chapman comes with more flash and pizzazz, sporting his 105 mph fastballs and cranking out eye popping strikeout rates. But bottom line is the closer’s job is to get 3 outs in the 9th while protecting your team’s lead. No matter how you get the outs or how hard you throw, saves all count the same. And in that regard Jeremy Jeffress has been every bit as good as Aroldis Chapman this year. Compare the numbers so far, Jeffress is 25 out of 26 converting saves with a 2.11 ERA, while Chapman is 21 out of 22 with 1.87 ERA entering play Saturday. Both players also happen to be 28 years old.

If you still are not convinced Jeffress should command a similar return to Chapman, it is also important to take into account free agency status and team control. While we know the Cubs possess the resources to lock him up long term if they want, as of right now Chapman is simply a rental player. On the other hand, Jeffress does not become a free agent until the 2020 season. Then there’s the off field issues that need to be addressed in trade value. Jeremy Jeffress had a well publicized problem with marijuana, causing early career suspensions, but all indications are that problem is well in Jeffress’ past. Chapman on the other hand has a much more recent and alarming off field issue having been involved in an alleged domestic violence incident last October, which caused him to be suspended 30 games to start the 2016 season.

I’ll admit if it comes down to one game and I get to pick, I would choose Chapman over Jeffress. But there’s more factors involved than sheer talent when it comes to teams trading away building blocks of their future. Bottom line is the Brewers have a very valuable piece in Jeremy Jeffress. He’s one of the top closers in the game. And it also does not hurt that he’s been pitching great, when no doubt many scouts and executives’ eyes are on him, watching every pitch.