Jason Grilli Rumors

Pirates Sign Jason Grilli

Jason Grilli - Pirates (PW)

The Pirates announced that they have signed free agent reliever Jason Grilli to a two-year deal. The sides agreed to a two-year, $6.75MM contract, Scott Miller and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported (on Twitter links). Former MLB player Gary Sheffield represents the 36-year-old right-hander.

Grilli enjoyed tremendous success in the Pirates' bullpen from 2011-12. He posted a 2.91 ERA with 13.8 K/9, 3.4 BB.9 and a 30.7% ground ball rate in 58 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh this past season and earned $1.1MM. Grilli ranked 33rd on MLBTR's list of top 50 free agents.

Grilli's fastball averaged 93.6 mph this past season, his top velocity since 2007. He generated swinging strikes 14.4% of the time, a career high. Not surprisingly, Grilli's strikeout rate increased yet again in 2012, when he struck out 90 of the 244 batters he faced. 

The Cubs, Blue Jays and Giants were among the finalists for Grilli, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reported last week. The ten-year veteran turned down slightly bigger offers elsewhere to stay in Pittsburgh, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Grilli turned down a more lucrative deal from the Blue Jays, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of US Presswire. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement (on Twitter).


Contract Details: Grilli, Wright

Details about some recent multiyear deals from around MLB…

  • Under the terms of his new deal with the Pirates, Jason Grilli will earn a $500K signing bonus, $2.25MM in 2013 and $4MM in 2014, Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). In total, the Gary Sheffield client obtains $6.75MM over two years.
  • Anthony DiComo of MLB.com has the year-by-year breakdown of David Wright's eight-year, $138MM contract extension with the Mets. Wright will earn $11MM in 2013 and his salary increases to $20MM in 2014. The deal also includes incentives, which DiComo details.

Jason Grilli Close To Deal

10:24am: It will be a two-year deal and the Giants are out, tweets Rosenthal.  Pirates GM Neal Huntington said today that they made a "very fair offer" to Grilli.

THURSDAY, 8:28am: Grilli will decide between the Cubs, Blue Jays, Giants, and Pirates at 10am today, or earlier if one of the teams goes to three years on the 36-year-old, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB Network.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Grilli will stay in Pittsburgh if no one adds the third year.

WEDNESDAY, 4:38pm: Grilli is still wading through all the offers presented to him, Sheffield told MLB.com's Tom Singer.  The Brewers haven't talked with Sheffield this week, GM Doug Melvin told reporters.

12:42pm: If Grilli is close to a deal, it's not with the Brewers, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

10:50am: Jason Grilli's agent, former MLB slugger Gary Sheffield, tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link) that he's nearing a deal for his client. However, Sheffield didn't reveal which team was closing in on Grilli.

As Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes, Grilli is expected to choose from nearly a dozen suitors today, with the Pirates still in the mix. The right-hander figures to land a multiyear contract.



Heyman On Choo, Cabrera, Red Sox, Grilli, Marcum

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has been sharing a few Winter Meetings nuggets on this Twitter feed this morning, so let's dive right in and round them up (all links go to Twitter)….


Free Agent Rumors: Hannahan, Ibanez, Saito, Nakajima

We rounded up one set of free agent rumors earlier in the day, but as we approach late afternoon in Nashville, it's about time for a fresh batch….


Brewers Notes: Grilli, Sean Burnett, Josh Hamilton

The Brewers are looking to make some additions to their pitching staff; here's the latest.

  • GM Doug Melvin said he has talked to Gary Sheffield, who represents reliever Jason Grilli.  He's also been in touch with Sean Burnett's agent (Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporting).
  • Regarding the recent chatter that the Brewers are unwilling to do more than two years for a pitcher, Melvin quipped, "I'll do a 10-year deal if the money is right. $1 million a year."
  • Despite mounting evidence that it won't happen, the Josh Hamilton rumor won't die.  The Brewers "do appear to be involved at least to some degree," tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  Asked whether the Brewers could get involved on Hamilton or Zack Greinke, Melvin said today, "No. It sounds like they're getting market value."

Free Agent Rumors: Oswalt, Delmon, Sizemore, Ross, Ludwick

Here's the latest from the Winter Meetings on a handful of free agents:

Earlier updates:


Pirates Trying To Retain Grilli, Others Interested

Only three relievers posted a higher strikeout rate than Jason Grilli this season, so it's no surprise the veteran right-hander is a popular man on the free agent market. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter) that the Pirates are trying to retain Grilli, but a number of teams have interest in him as a closer.

Grilli, 36, pitched to a 2.91 ERA with 13.08 K/8 and 3.4 BB/9 in 58 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh this year. He's revived his career with the Pirates these last two seasons, posting a 2.76 ERA with 12.5 K/9 in 91 1/3 innings since the start of 2011. Tim Dierkes ranked the right-hander 33rd on his Top 50 Free Agents List, predicting he would sign with the Brewers. Grilli is represented by former big leaguer Gary Sheffield.


Cafardo’s Latest: Blockbuster, Cabrera, Pavano, Grilli

In his Sunday Notes column, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe says Miguel Cabrera was a worthy MVP winner even if the data supported Mike Trout. Here are Cafardo's rumors…

  • Although criticism is warranted, the Blue Jays-Marlins blockbuster was a legitimate baseball trade because Miami received plenty of young, high-end talent in return.
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers was never really in the hunt for Jose Reyes, and he has yet to be overwhelmed with an offer for Justin Upton.
  • The Red Sox are more likely to deal Jarrod Saltalamacchia than Ryan Lavarnway in the wake of the David Ross signing, but only if they get a good offer.
  • Both the Red Sox and Diamondbacks are interested in Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians while Boston also has some interest in Stephen Drew.
  • Carl Pavano was given a clean bill of health in September after missing most of the season with a shoulder problem. His agent Dave Pepe has received a few preliminary calls, and Pavano could sign a minor league deal.
  • Most executives love Dan Haren but would not be comfortable offering more than two years given concerns about his back. Most prefer a one-year deal with an option.
  • Eight teams, including the Red Sox, have interest in right-hander Jason Grilli according to his agent Gary Sheffield. They have three offers at the moment but are not in a hurry to sign.
  • The Indians are looking at Kevin Youkilis at first base while the Phillies and Dodgers like him at third. He's a back-burner option for Los Angeles and although Towers made a call, the Diamondbacks likely won't be involved.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Jason Grilli

Established closers such as Jose ValverdeBrandon League and Jonathan Broxton will draw interest when they hit free agency this offseason. But those relievers aren't pitching as well as Jason Grilli, the Pirates right-hander who is enjoying a career year in Pittsburgh as he approaches his 36th birthday. Grilli’s breakout season figures to pay off a few months from now when he signs his next contract.

Jason Grilli - Pirates (PW)

Grilli has put together a dominant season in Pittsburgh largely because of his ability to generate strikeouts. He’s fourth among MLB pitchers with 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings (minimum 50 innings pitched) for a total of 84 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings. He’s also fourth on the Pirates in strikeouts, ahead of Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens, who both spent most of the year in Pittsburgh’s rotation.

Grilli’s fastball averages 93.7mph, a career high. Opponents swing and miss at 14.3% of his offerings, also a career high. While he’s not quite in Craig Kimbrel/Aroldis Chapman territory when it comes to generating swinging strikes, he's ahead of swing and miss relievers such as Jonny Venters and Fernando Rodney

Both left-handers and right-handers have struggled against Grilli, the Giants’ first round pick in 1997. He strikes out 43.1% of the left-handed hitters he faces, fourth among all relievers and tops among those headed for free agency. Right-handers have slightly more success; they strike out 31.6% of the time.

Overall, Grilli’s numbers are phenomenal: a 2.96 ERA with 13.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 31.9% ground ball rate in 54 2/3 innings. Though 2012 has been Grilli's best season, he has had success at the MLB level before. He pitched effectively for Pittsburgh last year and his strikeout rate has risen in each of the last six seasons (excluding 2010, when Grilli didn't pitch).

He settled for a minor league deal leading up to the 2011 season, after missing all of 2010 with a leg injury. This offseason, he’ll be one of the top free agent relievers available. He’ll be guaranteed millions and a big league roster spot. It’s a question of how much money and how many years.

His agent, former MLB star Gary Sheffield, should push for a multiyear contract despite his client’s age (in case you’re wondering, the slugger turned agent was hitless in two career at bats against Grilli). Sheffield will note recent multiyear contracts signed by non-closing relievers such as Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Grant Balfour. Parallels also exist between Grilli and Joaquin Benoit, who missed the entire 2009 season then pitched his way to a three-year, $16.5MM contract with a dominant age-32 season.

It must be noted that the market for relief pitchers seems increasingly hostile. Multiyear contracts for free agent relievers dropped from 17 in 2010-11 to six last offseason. General managers will surely ask themselves if Grilli, who will be 36 by Opening Day 2013, can replicate his 2012 numbers. 

In my view the floor for Grilli is a one-year deal with a base salary in the $3-5MM range. For someone whose career prospects seemed to be fading two years ago that’d be a notable contract, but there’s a good chance he can do even better. I expect a two-year deal in the $10MM range for Grilli, who won’t be tied to draft pick compensation thanks to the sport’s new collective bargaining agreement. He’s pitching at an elite level and that’ll be reflected in his next contract.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.