It had to happen sooner or later, though many Milwaukee Brewers fans probably hoped it would go on a bit longer.
The Tim Dillard Era is over.
Dillard, who had been in the Brewers’ organization since being selected in the 34th round of the 2002 draft, signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers on Monday.
The Brewers did not try to re-sign Dillard, 35, but farm director Tom Flanagan made it clear how much the organization appreciated his service, the longest ever for a minor-leaguer in their system.
“We were fortunate to have Tim with the Brewers organization since he entered professional baseball and he always represented himself and the Brewers very well,” Flanagan said. “We wish him nothing but the best as he continues his playing career.”
Dillard, very active on Twitter, had this to say about the development:
Signing with the Rangers allowed Dillard the opportunity to play in his hometown of Nashville again, which was important to his family. Texas moved its Class AAA affiliate there after last season. The Brewers’ Class AAA affiliate was in Nashville for many years, and Dillard played there from 2007-’14 before that team relocated to Colorado Springs.
“That was probably a dream come true,” Dillard said of the chance to play in Nashville again. “If I can’t be in the big leagues, it’s nice to play in the minor leagues where you live. I never thought I’d be able to return.”
Over his 16 seasons in the Brewers’ system, Dillard pitched in 478 games, including 118 starts, going 84-60 with a 4.07 ERA and 18 saves.
Dillard pitched an amazing 12 years at the Class AAA level for the Brewers for a total of 318 games (60 starts), going 54-33 with a 4.78 ERA.
Dillard appeared in 73 games in relief for the Brewers, most recently in 2012, going 1-4 with a 4.70 ERA.
Beyond his many years of service to the Brewers, Dillard cultivated a fan following with his social media activity, including regular humorous video postings on twitter. He often incorporated minor-league teammates in his videos, often having them perform popular songs of the time.
The Brewers used Dillard in postseason roles including pregame broadcasts and often had him come to their winter “Brewers on Deck” fan fest to participate in various social media platforms.
Dillard even developed his own branding and merchandise:
Dillard also had his own bobblehead and beer named after him:
“I came to grips a long time ago that everyone has a unique story,” Dillard said. “Everyone wants 10 years in ‘The Show’ (the majors). I didn’t get that but I kept getting a jersey and a place in the clubhouse.
“I tried to take advantage of that. I tried to live in the moment and not look too far ahead. It’s been pretty amazing. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Dillard often was used as extra veteran depth at the Class AAA level to help the Brewers protect the arms of younger prospects, and filled that role professionally and without complaint. That role was particularly valuable in past years in the tough pitching environment at Colorado Springs.
With the Class AAA affiliate moving to San Antonio for the 2019 season, the need for that veteran protection provided by Dillard was not as essential. So, he was allowed to explore the market and sign with the Rangers.
“It was the worst year of my career statistically (9.70 ERA in 25 games) but I think I learned a lot,” Dillard said. “I was their Swiss army knife the last three or four years. That kept a jersey on my back, and if you have a jersey, you have a chance.
“But because my stats were not good, I thought, ‘How can I ever get another job?’ But baseball is amazing in that way. If I had to leave the Brewers, this is probably the best situation I could hope for.”
And, so, the Tim Dillard Era has ended. Best of luck to him, and don’t be surprised if we see him again at some point in the future.