Jason Grilli Rumors
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).
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."
Here's the latest from the Winter Meetings on a handful of free agents:
- Roy Oswalt is unsure about whether he'll pitch in 2013, one of his agents tells Morosi.
- The Mariners checked in on Delmon Young, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi reported previously that Young might wait until January to sign given his November ankle surgery.
- Grady Sizemore had been drawing interest from a few clubs, including the Red Sox, but he won't be a real option until midseason, according to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. Agent Joe Urbon confirmed to Castrovince that his client underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in September.
- Besides being interested in Scott Hairston, the Yankees are also eyeing Cody Ross, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
- The Mariners have checked in on Ryan Ludwick, among other hitters, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- Cesar Izturis' reps are expected to meet with the Mets this week and there could be a match there, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
- The Orioles' interest in righty Brett Myers appears minimal, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, and they have no meetings set up with his reps.
- The Twins are one team with early interest in southpaw John Lannan, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Pirates also have an eye on Lannan, reported Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review earlier today.
- The Cubs are talking to many agents about bullpen help and they like Jason Grilli, tweets Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.
- Solid interest in Jason Bay (from teams other than Boston) may lead to a Major League deal, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.
- The Marlins are interested in utility man Mark DeRosa, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The 37-year-old had indicated at season's end that he was unsure what his future held.
- The Royals are "sending out signals" that they have the money and the motivation to pursue a pitcher who could be considered a No. 1, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. A run at Anibal Sanchez isn't out of the question for Kansas City, according to Knobler.
- Tigers people continue to say the team isn't even considering Rafael Soriano, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. However, Sherman notes that owner Mike Ilitch's great relationship with Scott Boras still makes Detroit a wild card in the Soriano sweepstakes.
- Rival executives view the Nationals as a good fit for Mike Pelfrey, especially considering GM Mike Rizzo and Scott Boras have a history of working out deals, says Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitterlinks).
- Teams are showing "no hesitation whatsoever" in pursuing Jeff Keppinger, who underwent surgery to repair a right fibula fracture, agent Keith Grunewald tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitterlinks).
- Jason Giambi would like to continue his playing career, and is drawing interest from three or four teams, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.