MILWAUKEE -- A familiar name was on his way back to Miller Park in the wake of Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.The Brewers re-acquired former closer Jeremy Jeffress in a trade with the Texas Rangers, two hours before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline to deal players without exposing them to waivers. Minor
MILWAUKEE -- A familiar name was on his way back to Miller Park in the wake of Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The Brewers re-acquired former closer Jeremy Jeffress in a trade with the Texas Rangers, two hours before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline to deal players without exposing them to waivers. Minor League reliever Tayler Scott went to Texas in the swap.
It represents a roll of the dice that Jeffress, who has a 5.31 ERA and 5.83 FIP in 39 games this season, can rediscover the form that made him attractive to the Rangers at the Deadline a year ago, when the Brewers dealt him along with catcher Jonathan Lucroy for a package of top prospects.
Jeffress has already revitalized his career once after returning to Milwaukee, and now Brewers officials hope he can do it again.
"You know what? I can't even put a finger on it. I'm baffled myself," Jeffress said of his troubles in Texas. "I think to be honest, it was a little bit mental. But I think I'm in a good place now. Coming home is going to be great. I feel like this is where I need to be."
It was general manager David Stearns' second late-inning relief addition, after he acquired Anthony Swarzak from the White Sox last week.
Stearns was working on other trades right up to the Deadline, but only the Jeffress deal reached completion.
"It was active," Stearns said. "I can say we were quite literally exchanging names right down to the last 10 minutes with other players involved. At this point, we weren't able to get anything else across the finish line."
Stearns wouldn't say whether his last-minute talks would have netted a starter or a reliever, or perhaps a hitter to provide some production at second base. He also declined to confirm reports that the Brewers circled back with the A's on right-handed starter Sonny Gray before Oakland sent him to the Yankees.
For weeks, the debate around Miller Park has been whether the Brewers should seize on their unexpected first half -- they were 5 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Cubs at the All-Star break -- or stay the course with the prospects Stearns and predecessor Doug Melvin have acquired over the past two years. When the Deadline passed, the Brewers had only made two relatively modest trades for relievers.
Stearns sent the club's No. 17 prospect Ryan Cordell, an outfielder behind other promising players in the system, to the White Sox for Swarzak. He parted with Scott, a 25-year-old reliever signed out of independent ball last year, for Jeffress.
"I know we were in discussions down to the very end," Stearns said. "It's always tough to say how close you come. You're never entirely sure of where the other side is, but we were engaged in both bigger and smaller deals right to the very end."
A former first-round Draft pick of the Brewers who served multiple suspensions in Milwaukee's Minor League system for marijuana use, Jeffress has always performed best at "home." He went to the Royals in a December 2010 trade that included Zack Greinke, but he struggled in Kansas City and in a subsequent stop in Toronto.
After returning to Milwaukee on a Minor League contract in 2014 and reuniting with then-assistant GM Gord Ash and Brewers director of psychological services Matt Krug, Jeffress flourished. He posted a 2.36 ERA in 148 relief appearances and rose to the Brewers' closer role for 2016, when he posted a 2.22 ERA and 27 saves before the trade to Texas.
In last year's trade, the Brewers sent Lucroy and Jeffress to the Rangers for three Minor Leaguers: Outfielders Lewis Brinson and Cordell, as well as pitcher Luis Ortiz. Brinson is now the Brewers' top-ranked prospect and No. 15 in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com, and Ortiz is Milwaukee's No. 3 prospect and No. 81 overall.
For Texas, the trade had mixed results at best. Lucroy and Jeffress helped the Rangers reach the American League Division Series and were traded this week. Lucroy, a free agent after this season, went to the Rockies on Sunday for a player to be named later.
Jeffress said he'd heard rumors of Milwaukee as a possible destination in the days before the trade as agent Josh Kusnick sought information.
"[Rangers GM] Jon Daniels and [director of baseball operations] Matt Vinnola were being gracious sending Jeremy back to Milwaukee. They have a first-class organization from the top down," Kusnick said. "Jeremy is so excited, on the other hand, to come 'home,' and he looks forward to helping Milwaukee win a ring and compete for a very long time."
Jeffress turns 30 on Sept. 21. He is earning $2.1 million this season and has two more years of arbitration eligibility ahead before he reaches free agency.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.