Feyereisen, Rasmussen dealt to Tampa Bay

Stearns, Counsell preach internal competition to help bolster bullpen

May 22nd, 2021

Drew Rasmussen was called into the manager’s office first, then J.P. Feyereisen. The Brewers' relievers were told that they’d both been traded to Tampa Bay.

“J.P. and I were laughing. At least they sent over our catch partner, too,” Rasmussen said.

The two play catch every day, a routine of bullpen life that will now continue with the Rays. The Brewers opened two significant holes in the bullpen by trading the 28-year-old Feyereisen, who’d risen to a prominent setup role this season, and the 25-year-old Rasmussen, a potential future closer, in order to acquire a new starting shortstop in Willy Adames and another bullpen arm in Trevor Richards.

Brewers get: SS Willy Adames, RHP Trevor Richards
Rays get: RHP J.P. Feyereisen, RHP Drew Rasmussen

“In the near term, we're going to be asking more of some of the guys who are here,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said.

Feyereisen was effectively the Brewers’ seventh-inning man ahead of reigning National League Rookie of the Year Devin Williams and closer Josh Hader when the Brewers had the lead this season, though Feyereisen had run into a rough patch lately. After holding opponents to an .080 batting average in his 17 appearances without an earned run to open the season, he has allowed runs in three of his last four games, including multiple runs in each of the past two.

Rasmussen has a 5.01 ERA in 27 career relief appearances, but he has a high ceiling thanks to a power fastball and plus breaking ball that some scouts view as future closer material. He has 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings and a 4.24 ERA in 15 games so far this year.

“There’s no question we’ve created a hole, and we’ll have to fill it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s the other guys that have to fill the hole. We’ve got five names.”

The five relievers beyond Hader and Williams are right-handers Brad Boxberger, Josh Lindblom and Richards, and left-handers Brent Suter and Angel Perdomo. Right-hander Eric Yardley is due back soon from a shoulder injury, upon which he will join that mix as well.

Statistically, the Brewers' bullpen has not been the strength it was expected to be entering 2021, considering it’s anchored by Williams and Hader, who have combined to win the last three Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Awards. Brewers relievers entered Friday ranked 11th of 15 NL teams with a 4.54 ERA and 10th with a 1.36 WHIP, despite ranking third with a 26.6 percent strikeout rate.

“I think we're going to need some guys to step up internally,” Stearns said. “We'll evaluate how that goes and then determine whether there's an external acquisition that's needed.”

Rasmussen was nearly a Ray in 2017, when that team drafted him in the first round. But his physical exam revealed an elbow injury and the need for a second Tommy John surgery. The Rays treated him great, Rasmussen said, but they opted not to sign him.

A year later, the Brewers took a flier on Rasmussen in the sixth round while he was still rehabbing and he shot through their system -- all the way to the Majors in 2020.

“It’s always the picture-perfect thing you dream of, staying in one location your entire career, but it didn’t work out that way unfortunately,” Rasmussen said. “I think the hardest part is you start to build all these great relationships and you start to understand the organization and what they expect and what they value. … And then you get traded and you get caught off guard. Now you have to start that process all over again.”

Feyereisen will be a resource. He’s already been traded three times in his career: From the Indians to the Yankees in 2016 in the Andrew Miller deal, from New York to the Brewers in late '19, and again Friday.

The trade was a big surprise. Feyereisen was born and raised in Wisconsin and was enjoying playing at home.

“It was definitely a dream playing with the Brewers, but this game of baseball is also a business and I understand what they’re doing and am excited to go play for Tampa, for sure,” Feyereisen said. “With the group of guys we have in Milwaukee, it was just like a group of brothers playing together. It was a very good time and I definitely will have some good memories of those guys, and I will definitely think of them as good friends of mine and not just teammates.”