According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, free agent reliever Jason Grilli has agreed to a new two-year contractto return to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The deal is contingent on a physical, but that shouldn’t be an issue as the Pirates are, no doubt, familiar with grilli’s medicals.
After bouncing around the league for much of his career, shifting between the majors and minors, between the rotation and the bullpen, Grilli found a home in Pittsburgh over the past two years. The former fourth overall pick in the 1997 draft has pitched to a 2.76 ERA in 911.1 innings over the past two seasons. Over the first ten seasons of his career saw him pitch to a 4.74 ERA while working just over 356 innings. In that span, he averaged just 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
Since joining the Pirates, Grilli has averaged 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings, fanning 127 batters in those 91 innings, including a remarkable 90 strikeouts in just 58 innings in 2012.
Grilli will be slotted in as the primary set-up man once again unless the Pirates are successful in finding a taker for closer Joel Hanrahan, whom they are said to be shopping. Grilli had drawn interest from a handful of teams during the Winter Meetings and was holding out hope for a three year contract. There was some word that he was being viewed as a potential closer.
This is an important signing for the Pirates and keeping the back-end of their bullpen together should be helpful as they push for their first winning season since 1992. There are still some holes to fill, but having a set-up man with the numbers Grilli has produced recently only serves to make the games a little shorter for manager clint Hurdle.
UPDATE: Scott Miller says the deal is for $7 million over two seasons.