The A’s have signed veteran righty Justin Grimm to a minor league deal, according to Tim Hayes of The Bristol Herald Courier (Twitter link). Grimm was eligible to sign during the lockout due to his status as a minor league free agent, as his previous minors deal with the Mariners expired at the end of the season.
Grimm posted a 4.37 ERA over 47 1/3 innings with Triple-A Tacoma last season, with a very impressive 33.6% strikeout rate but also a 9.8% walk rate and 11 home runs allowed over that small sample size. It wasn’t enough for the Mariners to give him a call-up, and thus Grimm has now only seen MLB action in one of the last three seasons. Grimm’s last big league exposure was a four-game stint with the Brewers in 2020 that saw him struggle to a 17.36 ERA over only 4 2/3 innings.
With some rough numbers in 2017-18, it has been some time since Grimm has been an effective member of a Major League bullpen. Best known for his work with the Cubs, Grimm posted a 3.36 ERA and 28% strikeout rate over 171 1/3 frames from 2014-16, providing Chicago with a durable and largely effective relief arm. After the high point of the Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship, however, Grimm began to decline, in large part due to an increase in walks and homers allowed.
There’s no risk for the Athletics in giving Grimm a look in Spring Training to see if he can recapture his old form at age 33, or if Oakland coaches can make a tweak to help the right-hander get back on track. With the A’s perhaps still figuring out how to best manage payroll cuts without fully tearing things down, it has been a pretty quiet winter on the transactions front for Oakland, but the bullpen is an obvious area of need — Andrew Chafin, Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman, and Sergio Romo are all free agents. Given the Athletics’ budget crunch, they seem likely to target lower-cost options rather than invest heavily in relief pitching.