Ex-Angel Jason Grilli Signs with Braves


Jason Grilli signed a two-year contract Tuesday with the Atlanta Braves worth a reported $8 million. The Braves tacked on a club option for 2017. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal broke the news of Grilli’s signing first via twitter.

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The Angels dealt for Grilli from the Pittsburgh Pirates last June in exchange for Ernesto Frieri. Grilli was an All-Star in 2013, recording 33 saves and helping lead the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in 20 seasons. Unfortunately for Grilli and the Pirates, Grilli regressed horribly in 2014. Grilli went 0-2 while posted an ERA of 4.87 across 22 appearances for the Pirates before being traded to the Halos. Grilli recorded 11 saves for Pittsburgh this past season, but was replaced as the closer after blowing four saves. Grilli’s poor performance made the Bucs decision easy to insert Mark Melancon as the club’s closer.

Jul 26, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Jason Grilli (39) pitches in the ninth inning for a save in the game against the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Angels won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Grilli showed signs of improvement down the stretch as a member of the Angels, but he was still a shadow of his former self. The 38-year-old went 1-3, with an ERA of 3.48 across 33.2 innings in the big A. The Seton Hall alum collected one save during his time with the Angels. Grilli saw his strikeout to walk ratio improve from a measly 1.91 with the Bucs to 3.60 with the Halos. However, this was still a far cry from 2013 when Grilli posted a 5.69 strikeout to walk ratio. Grilli averaged 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings between 2011 and 2013 with the Pirates, but this past season he saw that number drop to 9.5. Grilli did post a respectable 2.15 FIP last summer with the Halos.

Angels’ general manager Jerry Dipoto has at no time suggested the Angels had any interest in bringing back the aging veteran. Grilli did rebound slightly after being traded to Anaheim, but the Halos already have multiple quality right-handed arms at the backend of their bullpen. Joe Smith, Mike Morin, Huston Street, and even Vinnie Pestano are all significant upgrades on Grilli at this stage of his career.

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The Atlanta Braves are expected to employ Grilli as their set-up man. Craig Kimbrel is entrenched as the Braves closer next season, and rightfully so after recording 185 saves since 2011, and making four consecutive All-Star appearances. Grilli has had success in the past as a late inning reliever, but Braves fans have be weary of his steep drop in production this past campaign. Grilli does provide the Braves with valuable depth given his experience as a closer should Kimbrel suffer an injury.

While Grilli was not the worst option available this offseason, he is not worth anything close to what the Braves gave him. Giving Grilli such a significant deal makes little sense to me. I am personally shocked his agent managed to finagle a two-year deal plus a club option for a third. I expected Grilli’s market to max out at a one-year contract with an option for a second year with an average annual salary of $2-$3 million. At age 38, I do not anticipate Grilli finishing this contract; in fact I could easily see the Braves giving up on him in June if he struggles out of the gate.

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