Jays Sign Gregg to One-Year Deal
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
02/05/10 11:16 AM EST
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have made it official: Kevin Gregg is competing for the closer's job. On Friday, Toronto officially announced that it has signed the reliever to a one-year contract that includes a pair of club options, adding more depth to a crowded bullpen.
Gregg will earn $2.75 million in 2010 and has the potential to remain with the Blue Jays through 2012. Toronto will have the choice of exercising a one-year, $4.50 million club option for 2011 or a two-year club option worth $8.75 million for the 2011-12 campaigns.
The options give the Blue Jays the opportunity to retain Gregg if the club lacks other closing options over the next two years. That's important considering that left-hander Scott Downs and right-hander Jason Frasor -- Gregg's competitors for the ninth-inning job this spring -- are both eligible for free agency next winter.
Including the two club options also increases Gregg's potential value as a bargaining chip around the July 31 Trade Deadline. Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is focusing on the club's long-term situation and is trying to gather as many assets as he can. Having Gregg in the fold as a potential trading chip is of value for a Toronto team that is trying to obtain young players for the future.
Gregg also qualified as a Type A free agent this offseason and there is the chance that he could be worth compensation Draft picks again down the road. That also is true of Downs or Frasor, who would likely be at least Type B free agents next offseason. If all three relievers qualify, the Jays could have a handful of compensatory picks to help build up their farm system.
Adding Gregg to the mix could also signal that Anthopoulos is considering trading Downs, Frasor or another reliever. As things currently stand, the Blue Jays have more than a dozen arms in the mix for the seven available bullpen roles. With Gregg, Downs and Frasor set to make the team, that leaves few jobs up for grabs.
Over the past three seasons, the the 31-year-old Gregg has posted a 3.86 ERA with 84 saves in stints with the Marlins and Cubs. The right-hander has also blown 20 saves over that time period -- seven with Chicago a year ago while earning $4.2 million -- and he allowed 13 home runs last season, which was tied for the most yielded by a Major League reliever.
Gregg did finish with 23 saves and 71 strikeouts over 68 2/3 innings with the Cubs in '09, but he lost the closer's job to Carlos Marmol in August and was shut down toward the end of September due to a crack in the cartilage in his left rib cage. In the season's final two months, Gregg allowed 18 earned runs over 20 1/3 innings, giving him a bloated 7.97 ERA over that time period.
Even with that recent history of inconsistency, Gregg has more experience as a closer than Downs or Frasor, who have performed well in setup roles. Downs and Frasor helped out in the ninth inning last year after former closer B.J. Ryan battled injuries and command issues, leading to his release in July. Ryan is still owed $10 million for this season.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs