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Kevin Gregg Rumors
The Braves are "among the many teams expected to show interest in Cubs closer Kevin Gregg," writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Bowman notes that the righty closed for current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez when both were with the Marlins in 2007-08. Gregg is just one of many relievers the Braves may be looking at as they pursue veteran help with Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters out for the season.
Gregg, 35, has become an unlikely asset for the Cubs, returning to their closer role and posting a 1.42 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.71 HR/9, and 36.5% groundball rate in 25 1/3 innings. He's proof of the volatility of relievers. In March, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon wrote that Gregg "quietly stewed" over the fact that he couldn't find a Major League deal in the offseason coming off a 2012 campaign in which he posted a 4.95 ERA and 1.5 K/BB ratio in 43 2/3 frames for the Orioles. He signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers, who couldn't find a spot on their big league pitching staff due to their starter surplus and released him. He then signed a minor league deal with the Cubs, who selected his contract in a mid-April bullpen shakeup.
It's a little early for a clear picture of Gregg's market, but the Braves, Reds, Red Sox, Tigers, and Padres are likely to be on the hunt for bullpen help. The Cubs and Braves hooked up on a notable trade near the deadline last year, with Chicago shipping veterans Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta for prospects Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.
Gregg served as the Cubs' closer in 2009 before signing with the Blue Jays in 2010 and inking a two-year deal with the Orioles that covered the 2011-12 seasons. He returned to the Cubs on a minor league deal this April and now finds himself in the midst of an unlikely career year at age 35.
Gregg has pitched to an immaculate 1.11 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 with 11 saves in 24 1/3 innings since returning to the Cubs. That ERA is likely unsustainable, but even advanced metrics like FIP (2.31), xFIP (3.05) and SIERA (2.79) feel that Gregg's work this year has truly been in the upper echelon of Major League relievers.
Gregg could serve as a bargain bullpen upgrade for teams that don't wish to meet the steep asking price on players like Jesse Crain and Jonathan Papelbon (if he does indeed become available). Gregg ranks fourth in FIP, xFIP and WAR among relief trade candidates according to the custom Fangraphs leaderboard compiled yesterday by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
We're just under six weeks away from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At this point, many teams are still attempting to determine whether or not they're buyers or sellers, and the addition of a second Wild Card in each league has made that a longer process than it was in the past. However, ESPN's Buster Olney has spoken to rival evaluators who have said that the Cubs are "open for business" and ready to sell (ESPN Insider required and recommended).
The Cubs are 13 games below .500 and 17 games out of first place in the National League Central as of this morning, so their stance is a clear one. Nate Schierholtz, Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus (when healthy), Alfonso Soriano, James Russell and Matt Garza are the names that figure to be on the trading block as the Cubs field calls, writes Olney. His piece also includes much more info on potential matches for the Cubs and which divisions may be the first to become active on the trade front.
My take on the Cubs' situation: Being the first team to sell pieces has its advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the Cubs will have more teams to work with at this juncture. Early in the trading season, with so few teams ready to declare themselves sellers, buyers will have few other places to turn. Trading for a player like Garza or Feldman right now would give the acquiring team an extra few starts from the pitcher they're trading precious prospects for. Acquiring a position player in late June as opposed to late July could mean an extra 20 to 30 games out of that player.
On the flipside of the coin, teams may not be as desperate right now as they would be in the final hours leading up to the deadline. Oftentimes, big deals go down with just hours or minutes to go before the trade deadline, as teams have decided that one final push is worth the risk. Recent examples of July 31 blockbusters include both Hunter Pence trades, the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and the White Sox's acquisition of Jake Peavy. Each of these deals included high-profile prospects being exchanged for star-caliber players, though obviously not all of them worked out.
Injuries can also occur in the next month that would make buyers out of teams who are currently not looking. Conversely, one of the Cubs' trade chips could incur an injury, which would leave president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer one less piece to work with.
Selling pieces early takes away some of the "desperation" leverage from the Cubs, but it also will likely increase their number of suitors, creating more competition for their players. Epstein and Hoyer will have to determine how to walk that line over the next several weeks as they look to build toward the future.
Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the infamous Lee Elia tirade against the Wrigley Field faithful where he unleased 37 "bleeps" in 187 seconds. Elia would remain as manager of the Cubs for just four more months. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle chronicles how times have changed for Major League managers. Four reporters were present for Elia's rant and only one had a microphone which captured the event for all posterity. Shea reminds us today there are interview rooms, social media, and live post-game press conferences shown on regional and national sports networks. As a result, Shea says managers have to be more articulate, polite, and thoughtful. Giants manager Bruce Bochy echoes that sentiment, "It's different when you just see pen and paper. When there's a camera there, you have to remind yourself." Elsewhere from the NL Central Division:
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum refuses to name a closer telling reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan, "I'm not going to really mess with anything right now in our bullpen. It's about as good as it can be right now." The Cubs are 7-for-13 in save opportunites with three different relievers notching a save including Kevin Gregg, who leads the team with three despite being recalled only two weeks ago.
- Matt Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Rankings, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today and is on track to make three or four minor league rehab starts, reports David Furones of MLB.com.
- Speaking of Garza, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald revisited the trade which brought the right-hander to Chicago and notes just one of the eight players invovled in the deal is currently playing in the Majors. Miles sees the trade as a wash, a viewpoint shared by MLBTR's Steve Adams who examined the Garza trade in a Transaction Retrospection last month.
- The Cardinals' imploding bullpen saw its ERA rise to 5.93 after surrendering six runs to the Pirates today. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch tweets the status quo cannot continue, but the team does not have many in-house options. Langosch also tweeted injured closer Jason Motte played catch for the second consecutive day indicating his arm responded well to yesterday's session.
- For the second straight season, Rickie Weeks is off to a slow start offensively with only seven hits in his last 69 at-bats. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com speculates Weeks will have a long leash because no one in the front office wants to start the service clock of Scooter Gennett, the Brewers' sixth-best prospect according to MLB.com, just yet.
The Cubs announced that they have signed reliever Kevin Gregg to a minor league deal. Gregg will report to the club's spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona before being assigned somewhere within the organization.
Gregg, 34, was released by the Dodgers earlier this month as the club already had their surplus starters taking up spots in the bullpen. The right-hander appeared in 40 games for the O's before being released last September, with a 4.74 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, and a 47.8 % ground ball rate in 43 2/3 innings.
There was no room for Gregg on the big league team as the Dodgers' starter surplus leaves no vacancies in the bullpen. The 34-year-old appeared in 40 games before being released last September, with a 4.74 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, and a 47.8 % ground ball rate in 43 2/3 innings.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is excited about Justin Verlander's extension and the possibility it could keep Verlander in Detroit his entire career, MLB.com's Adam Berry reports. "I think it was obviously a great situation for him. I think it's a great situation for the organization. I think it's a great situation for the fans," says Leyland. "He's been with the Tigers for going on his eighth year, [and he could stay] conceivably 15 years or maybe 16. That's pretty much a whole career. I think that's got a nice ring to it."
- The Mets should consider promoting top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, and should soon begin thinking about signing him to a long-term deal, David Lennon of Newsday.com argues. Promoting Wheeler to start the season, rather than delaying his service-time clock by starting him off in the minors, might show that the Mets are taking the 2013 season seriously, Lennon suggests. Once Wheeler is in the majors, Lennon argues that the landscape of the game (with teams signing their young stars left and right) suggests that the Mets will consider signing Wheeler long-term.
- Kevin Gregg of the Dodgers is still bothered that he didn't receive a major-league contract this offseason, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon reports. Gregg posted a 4.95 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 for the Orioles in 2012. "The way last year ended, the way the offseason unfolded, you're not a competitor if you don't have a little fire to show your abilities," says Gregg. Gregg has gotten good results this spring, but the Dodgers have a very crowded pitching staff, and might not have space for him.
The Dodgers have announced the signing of reliever Kevin Gregg to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training (Twitter link). This is the second right-handed reliever the Dodgers have signed to a minor league deal in the last three days, as they came to terms with Mark Lowe on Friday.
Gregg signed a two-year, $10MM contract with Baltimore after the 2010 season, but he struggled with the Orioles, posting a 4.53 ERA from 2011-12. He appeared in 40 games before being released last September, with a 4.74 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and a 47.8 % ground ball rate in 43 2/3 innings. The Beverly Hills Sports Counsel Client was not linked to any team this offseason.
With two weeks left in the season, here's an update on the various vesting options for 2013 from around the league…
- Brett Myers, White Sox — $10MM option vests with 45 games finished or based on a points system. Myers has finished 39 total games this season and the ChiSox have 12 games remaining. This one is unlikely to vest but is still possible.
- Kevin Gregg – $6MM option vests with 50 games finished. Gregg finished only 13 games before the Orioles released him last weekend.
- Jason Bartlett – $5.5MM option vests with 432 plate appearances. Bartlett came to the plate just 98 times with the Padres before hurting his knee and getting released last month. Like Gregg's, this one won't vest.
Chipper Jones has an option worth $9MM+ that will vest with 123 games played, but he's already rendered the option moot by announcing his plans to retire after the season. He recently said that he won't change his mind about retirement despite his strong play as well. Chipper has played in 103 of the Braves' 151 games, so this one isn't even mathematically possible anymore.
Alex Gonzalez has an option worth $4MM that will vest with 525 plate appearances, but he missed the majority of the season with a torn ACL. Gonzalez came to the plate just 89 times before the injury, so the Brewers do not have to worry about this one kicking in.
Gregg signed a two-year, $10MM contract with Baltimore after the 2010 season, but he struggled with the Orioles, posting a 4.53 ERA from 2011-12. He appeared in 40 games this year, posting a 4.74 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and a 47.8 % ground ball rate in 43 2/3 innings. The 34-year-old's contract included a $6MM team option for 2013 that evidently won't be exercised.