Toronto Blue Jays Sign Kevin Gregg
The Jays added some bullpen depth and possible trade flexibility on February 3rd by adding free agent Kevin Gregg to the ballclub. Via Sports Illustrated
Kevin Gregg, who had 84 saves over the last three seasons but ran into trouble pitching or the Cubs last year, has an agreement to sign with the Blue Jays. Gregg’s deal will guarantee him $2.75 million but contains options that could make him close to $8 million over two seasons or close to $12 million over three.
Incentives and full terms of the deal have yet to be released.
Kevin Gregg Short Bio
A feel good story, Kevin was drafted way back in the 15th round of the 1996 draft by the Oakland A’s. He toiled in their minor league system (as a starter) up until 2002. He was then signed away as a minor league free agent by the Los Angeles Angels.
Gregg reached prominence as a ‘good hand’ in the stacked Angels bullpens of the mid 2000’s, filling in mostly in the 6th and 7th innings. The Angels depth made Gregg expendable and he found himself being dealt to the Florida Marlins for failed prospect Chris Respo during the 2006 off-season. He was immediately thrust into the Marlins closer role, having a decent 2007 season with 32 saves, 55 games finished and a 3.87 FIP (although he was 0-5). He earned an salary bump up to $2.5 million at the start of 2008. He blew numerous saves, yet finished the year with a decent 7-8 record (3.41 ERA, 3.80 FIP) and a 7.6 K rate. In the off-season he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for prospect Jose Ceda. His salary jumped up to $4.2 million. Kevin’s bumpy 2009 was highly publicized, as he surrendered the closers role at numerous points during the season.
Statistically speaking, 2009 was the worst season of Gregg’s career. He served up 13 HR in only 68.2 IP and blew seven saves.
A few issues
One of the most simplistic, yet often over-looked closer stats is successful save percentage. In 2008 Gregg converted only 29 of 38 (76%) attempts and followed that up in 2009 with 23 of 30 (76%). Some pitchers just can’t handle the closers role effectively. Gregg could very well be one of those guys.
Another area of concern for Gregg is across the board velocity drops in 2009 vs 2008. I’m talking all three of his major pitches, fastball, slider and split finger. He’s older (born in 78) and is now reaching the tail end of a players historical prime years (27-31). Gregg has also missed some time to day-to-day injuries in the recent past, missing 16 days in 2009 and 10 days in 2008.
The signing creates an obvious cluster at the back-end of the Jays 2010 pen.
Rumours are swirling that Jason Frasor or Scott Downs could be on the block.
Bob Elliot claims that Downs could be on the move. I’m not buying it and here’s why.
Both Downs and Frasor will be free agents after next season. As Rafael Betancourt showed this off-season middle relievers can earn Type A status, although this isn’t the norm. Incoming Kevin Gregg himself was originally a Type A free agent. (He was not offered arbitration by the Cubs, thus voiding any compensation (and saving the Jays some draft picks)).
Heading into 2010 Scott Downs projects as a borderline Type A Free Agent. Frasor is should bring Type B compensation. Both are older relievers (Downs 34, Frasor 32). If someone has to go bet on Frasor. This makes sense from a compensation angle, along with capitalizing on his career year in 2009.
I can’t hate this deal
Another solid organizational depth move by AA. The Jays now have a few more options to play with when it comes to saving games or making trades. If he plays his cards right AA could parlay this signing into another piece of the 2011/2012 puzzle.