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Jason Grilli Rumors
It may be a bit early, but Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) grades everyone's offseason to date in the American League. The Yankees get a B+ for holding firm in the Robinson Cano negotiations and the A's get an A for their acquisitions of Craig Gentry, Luke Gregerson, and Jim Johnson. Teams like the Indians, Blue Jays, and Orioles, on the other hand, will need to do more if they want better marks from Bowden. Here's this afternoon's look around baseball..
- Pirates closer Jason Grilli says he would like extend his contract, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). Grilli, who inked a two-year, $6.75MM deal with the Bucs last offseason, posted a 2.70 ERA with 13.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 54 appearances last season. The 37-year-old is represented by Gary Sheffield, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.
- Brett Tomko is pitching in the Dominican Republic and throwing 92-94 MPH, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports (on Twitter). The 40-year-old is seeking a minor league deal with big-league invite. Tomko last appeared in the majors in 2011 when he made eight relief appearances for the Rangers.
- R.J. Anderson, Ben Lindbergh and Bret Sayre of Baseball Prospectus weighed in on the Rays' re-signing of James Loney. The two sides agreed to a three-year, $21MM deal this week.
- The Rockies are optimistic after a productive start to the offseason, writes Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com.
The Cubs continued their trajectory as baseball's most active team on the trade front this morning when they officially traded Alfonso Soriano and $17.7MM to the Yankees in exchange for right-hander Corey Black. The deal saves the Cubs roughly $6.8MM and brings a power arm that was selected in the fourth round of last year's draft into their system. Here's more on Soriano and the rest of the NL Central…
- Soriano told Gordon Wittenymyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes another team would've beaten the eight-year, $136MM contract he signed with the Cubs back in 2006. At least one team told Soriano's agent to give them a chance to beat any offer, but Soriano decided that he wanted the opportunity to join the storied history of the Cubs and bring a championship to Chicago.
- While Brewers GM Doug Melvin recently turned away an inquiry on Kyle Lohse, another Brewers-connected person implied to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that Lohse could be had for the right package of prospects.
- Within that same piece, one GM provided a long list of reasons that Yovani Gallardo isn't drawing interest. Gallardo's velocity is down, he's owed $15MM through 2014 and he also comes with off-the-field baggage in the form of a DUI arrest earlier this season.
- The Pirates announced today that Jason Grilli has a flexor strain in his right arm. He is not a candidate for surgery, which is good news for the Bucs, but he will still miss four to eight weeks. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Pirates become more active in the bullpen trade market.
- Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon that he has had a lot of conversations but nothing substantial. The Reds would like to add a right-handed bat but feel they can wait until Ryan Ludwick returns from the disabled list. They have a similar stance on waiting for Johnny Cueto, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton.
A pair of top prospects made their big league debuts yesterday, as Allen Webster started the second game of a double-header for the Red Sox and Anthony Rendon made his debut at third base for the Nationals with Ryan Zimmerman on the DL. Here's more on each, as well as some other news from baseball's Eastern divisions…
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer chronicles Jason Grilli's ascension from the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate to Pirates closer. In 2011, the Phils called up six relievers instead of Grilli, despite his dominant numbers. Grilli had a clause in his contract stating that if another MLB team wanted him on their 25-man roster, the Phillies had to either call him up or release him. Pittsburgh scouts took notice of Grilli, called the Phillies, and Philadelphia elected to release him so he could sign with the Buccos.
- Sonia Cruz, the spokeswoman for Robinson Cano's foundation, appeared in the latest round of Biogenesis documents, according to TJ Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN. Cruz's name was only connected to a pair of $300 payments, which she said were for her own weight loss interests. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that MLB sources told him there was no link between Cano and Biogenesis. When he heard about the latest report, a surprised Cano told reporters, including Feinsand, "It's got nothing to do with me."
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal examines the number of starting pitchers needed by the Red Sox in each season over the past decade and notes that the evidence suggests Webster will be back this season. MacPherson also adds that preliminary research indicates this is the earliest the Red Sox have ever turned to seven different starting pitchers in any season.
- The timing of Rendon's call-up suggests that the Nationals may be more willing to let him remain with the club all season than they've let on, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore points out that Rendon has spent 20 days in the minor leagues, meaning his free agency has been delayed by a full year now.
- Jake Arrieta is at a crossroads with the Orioles, in the mind of the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly. At 27 years of age, Arrieta has passed the "prospect" stage but has yet to find the consistency to convert his above-average repertoire of pitches into consistent success. Connolly notes that it's not wise to trade someone with Arrieta's talent while his value is so low, but moving him to the bullpen hardly maximizes his value.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Jay-Z's cerficiation process won't be complete anytime soon (Twitter link). As expected, CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen will handle Robinson Cano's extension talks.
Earlier today the Pirates extended manager Clint Hurdle through the 2014 season. Hurdle's contract contains an option for the 2015 season as well. Here's more news on the Buccos for your Monday reading pleasure…
- Neil Walker could be the next Pirate in line for a contract extension, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Pirates president Frank Coonelly said an extension for Walker was "absolutely" a possibility and called the second baseman part of the team's core going forward.
- Despite Coonelly's comments, Walker told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he's not aware of any recent conversations between his agent and the Pirates about a long-term deal (Twitter link). Walker is client of Hendricks Sports, as shown in MLBTR's Agency Database.
- More from Morosi, who tweets that Jason Grilli's final contract decision came down to the Pirates, Blue Jays and Cubs. All three teams offered similar deals, but Grilli elected to return to Pittsburgh on a two-year, $6.75MM contract.
Condolences go out to the family and friends of former Major League utility man Ryan Freel. The 36-year-old was found dead at his home today after taking his own life according to Chad Cushnir of First Coast News and MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Freel spent most of his career with the Reds, though he also suited up for the Blue Jays, Royals, Cubs, and Orioles.
Here's the latest from around the league as Saturday turns into Sunday…
- Livan Hernandez told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he plans to play in 2013 (Twitter link). The 37-year-old right-hander posted a 6.42 ERA in 67 1/3 relief innings for the Braves and Brewers last season.
- Jason Grilli will take over as closer for the Pirates following the Joel Hanrahan trade according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Heyman notes the right-hander does not have any bonuses based on games finished in his new contract.
- Nick Swisher is giving "serious consideration" to the four-year, $52MM offer from the Indians according to ESPN's Jim Bowden (on Twitter). The switch-hitting outfielder prefers the Dodgers, Angels, or Yankees though.
- The Phillies, Braves, Mets, and Yankees are among the teams still in play for Scott Hairston, reports Heyman (on Twitter). Heyman says the Yankees may be at a disadvantage because they already have three starting outfielders.
- In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney says the Rangers should not overreact and drastically alter their plan after failing to land several top targets this offseason.
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).
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.
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.
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)….
- Heyman classifies both Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera as very available, as the Indians search for long-term assets.
- The Red Sox are very active this week and are willing to discuss anyone, even Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester.
- Ten teams are in on Jason Grilli, as the market for the right-handed reliever heats up. Grilli tweeted early this morning that he was heading for Nashville and has a "full day" on tap.
- The Royals are "one of many" teams looking at Shaun Marcum, who is a Kansas City product.
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….
- Recently non-tendered third baseman Jack Hannahan has a big league offer from an AL Central team, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It could be the Twins, who met with his rep yesterday according to Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500.
- The Mariners contacted Raul Ibanez's agent, tweets Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
- Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima seeks a three-year deal, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan, but teams are hesitant.
- Takashi Saito, who turns 43 in February, would like to pitch another year in the U.S., tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown.
- The Mets have considered the idea of signing Mark Reynolds to play in the outfield, but his price tag may be too high for their liking, tweets Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
- Davidoff also tweets that the Yankees have met with Eric Chavez's agent at the Winter Meetings and expressed an interest in bringing back Chavez.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that the Brewers have "definite interest" in Jason Grilli, but only at a reasonable price (Twitter link). Milwaukee continues to seek both starters and relievers, but doesn't have the money to make a play for someone like Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse, says Scott Miller of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Jeremy Bonderman, who is attempting a comeback, could have a deal in place by the weekend, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).