Jason Grilli Rumors
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.
- 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.
Established closers such as Jose Valverde, Brandon 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.
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.
Tonight is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players. Many teams will agree to terms with players before the deadline and we'll keep track of them here:
- The Orioles have agreed to terms with Dana Eveland on a one-year, $750K deal for 2012, MLBTR has learned.
- The Giants have agreed to terms with Mike Fontenot on a one-year deal for 2012, avoiding arbitration, MLBTR has learned. It's a $1.05MM deal, according to the Associated Press.
- The Red Sox announced that they re-signed Matt Albers. He'll earn $1.075MM, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The Padres agreed to terms with Chris Denorfia on a one-year deal, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times (Twitter link). The deal is worth $1.165MM, according to Ronald Blum of the AP
The Pirates agreed to terms with Jason Grilli on a one-year, $1.1MM deal for 2012, MLBTR has learned.
- The Rockies agreed to terms with Kevin Slowey on a one-year deal, the team announced (on Twitter). Slowey obtains $2.75MM from the Rockies, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link). MLBTR had projected a $2.7MM salary.
- The Blue Jays agreed to sign Jeff Mathis to one-year deal that guarantees the backstop $1.5MM in 2012, MLBTR has learned. The Blue Jays have since confirmed the move.
- The Blue Jays have avoided arbitration with Jesse Litsch (one-year, $975K) and Dustin McGowan (one-year, $600K) according to a team press release.
- The Dodgers have signed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a two-year deal.
- The A's announced that they agreed to terms with Landon Powell, Daric Barton and Adam Rosales on one-year deals for 2012. The A's aren't non-tendering any arbitration eligible players this offseason. Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group hears Barton will earn $1.1MM in 2012 (Twitter link). Rosales will earn $600K and Powell will earn $620K, according to Ronald Blum of the AP.
- The Marlins signed Donnie Murphy to a contract for 2012, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post (Twitter link). He'll earn $560K, according to Ronald Blum of the AP.
- The Brewers announced that they signed George Kottaras to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration. He'll earn $700K, according to Ronald Blum of the AP.
- The Astros avoided arbitration with Humberto Quintero, signing him to a one-year deal worth $1MM, according to the team. MLBTR had projected a $1.2MM salary for Quintero.
- The Angels agreed to terms with right-hander Jerome Williams on a one-year deal, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times (on Twitter). Williams agreed to sign for $820K with $120K in incentives, according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (on Twitter).
- Skip Schumaker is nearing a two-year deal with the Cardinals.
The Pirates officially announced that they have signed right-hander Jason Grilli. The sides had reached an agreement yesterday, and Pittsburgh confirmed the move this morning. The Pirates announced that they optioned Pedro Ciriaco and Josh Harrison to Triple-A and transferred Evan Meek to the 60-day DL in corresponding moves.
Grilli had a 1.93 ERA, 11.8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 32 2/3 innings for the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate this year after missing the entire 2010 season with right knee surgery. Grilli had a clause in his minor league contract that enabled him to accept a Major League offer from another team if the Phillies didn't promote him onto their roster.
10:15am: Pirates GM Neal Huntington commented on Grilli to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch: "We are aware Jason has been released to pursue a Major League opportunity. We are interested and optimistic, but conversations continue." Langosch says the Pirates are expected to announce the deal tonight or Thursday, and Grilli just needs to pass his physical.
7:12am: The Pirates appear to have landed righty reliever Jason Grilli, based on the pitcher's tweet: "Black & Yellow! Black & Yellow! Black & Yellow! Cannot wait to join the new squadron."
Grilli, 34, has a 1.93 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, and 0.6 HR/9 in 32 2/3 innings for the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate this year. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported yesterday that the Phillies were on the clock, as Grilli had an out clause that allowed him to take a Major League offer from another team if the Phils didn't promote him within three days of that offer. Grilli adds depth for the Pirates, who Rosenthal believes are also seeking "an established eighth-inning reliever."
The Pirates are in first place, but manager Clint Hurdle realizes his team hasn't won anything of substance yet. "They don’t break a trophy in half and give it to you on July 19," he told MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (Twitter link). Here's the latest from Pittsburgh:
- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick explains how the Pirates ascended to the top of the NL Central and repeats that the Pirates have checked out Hunter Pence, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson and other available bats in their search for offensive help.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that he's looking to add a position player, a starting pitcher or a reliever (Twitter link). The Pirates have interest in Koji Uehara and others. For a look at what other teams are seeking, click here.
- Jason Grilli, who is pitching for Philadelphia's Triple-A team, will be in the big leagues within a few days, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The 34-year-old has received at least one Major League offer, which means the Phillies have to promote him or let him leave as a free agent. Grilli has drawn interest from Pittsburgh now that he appears to have recovered from the right knee operation that sidelined him in 2010.
Right-hander Jason Grilli announced on his Twitter account that he's "FIRED UP about the City of Brotherly Love," possibly indicating that he's agreed to sign with the Phillies. We heard that the team was interested in signing him just yesterday.
Grilli, 34, last pitched in the big leagues in 2009. He posted a 5.32 ERA in 45 2/3 innings with the Rockies and Rangers. He struck out an impressive 9.7 K/9, but walked 5.3 BB/9. He agreed to a minor league pact with the Indians last year, but he missed the entire season with a quad injury. The fourth overall pick in the 1997 draft, Grilli has worked exclusively in relief since 2005.
Grilli, a right-hander, last pitched for the Rangers in 2009. He signed a minor-league deal with the Indians prior to last season before suffering a knee injury that cost him all of the 2010 campaign.
Grilli's best season in the Majors (3.00 ERA) came in 2008, when he split time with the Tigers and Rockies. For his career, he has a 4.74 ERA over 356 2/3 innings.
Grilli, 34, is a former first-round pick of the Giants and has pitched for five teams.
4:09pm: The Indians also signed Brian Buscher, Mike Gosling, and Luis Rodriguez to minor league deals, according to a team press release.
Buscher, 29 in April, has a career line of .266/.343/.356 with the Twins, mainly at third base. Gosling, 29, tossed 25 innings for the Indians last year with a 5.04 ERA. He posted a 4.81 ERA in an additional 67.3 Triple A innings. Rodriguez, 29, had a career-high 251 plate appearances with the Padres this year but hit just .202/.319/.260. He's capable of playing all around the infield.
10:59am: The Indians signed reliever Jason Grilli to a minor league deal, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Grilli will make $800K in the Majors. Grilli first tweeted about the signing on November 23rd, but couldn't reveal the team. The 33-year-old righty posted a 5.32 ERA in 45.6 innings for the Rangers and Rockies this year, whiffing over a batter per inning but battling control and elbow problems. If the Indians are happy with Grilli, they can retain him for 2010 and 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player.