Jun 11, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) celebrates with relief pitcher Jason Grilli (39) after defeating the Chicago Cubs 4-2 during the ninth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates and Angels swap relievers: Grill to LA, Frieri to Pittsburgh


In a deal that sees a pair of former closers swap uniforms, the Pittsburgh Pirates send 2013 All-Star Jason Grilli to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Ernesto Frieri.

For this season, Grilli was 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA and 1.623 WHIP. He owns 11 saves, but has blown four, three of which occurred in the season’s first month. However, Grilli’s June has been anything but spectacular. In his 10 outings this month (8.1 IP), Grilli has been charged with at least one earned run in half of those. His June ERA is a staggering 7.56, while opponents are hitting .351 when facing him. He has struck out 8, but has issued 6 free passes.

Sometimes, I think people forget that Grilli didn’t even pitch in 2010. He joined Pittsburgh one day after being released by the Philadelphia Phillies in June 2011. He never saw action in a Phillies uniform as Grilli

Grilli had recently lost his closer’s job to Mark Melancon, but Grilli wasn’t the same after suffering an arm injury in 2013.

Jun 17, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Ernesto Frieri (49) pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Frieri’s 2014 hasn’t gone well either. In fact, some might say it’s been worse. He’s 0-3 with a 6.39 ERA and 1.355 WHIP. His issue hasn’t been walks near as much as it has been allowing hits. His H/9 for this season sits at 9.6. Last season, that number was 7.2, but it was a remarkable 4.3 in 2012. Opponents are currently hitting .268 against him.

Ah, but his SLG against is .520 as he’s served up 8 home runs in 31 innings of work this season.

Frieri’s SO/9 has also fallen off some over that same period, going from 13.3 in 2012 to 12.8 last season to its current number of 11.0.

Frieri had also been removed as a closer in favor of Joe Smith.

I’ll echo what Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com said about this deal. Here’s how Snyder summed up this trade.

The move actually makes a lot of sense for both teams. It’s a classic change-of-scenery with the hopes that it helps get a guy back on track.

Honestly, I don’t think it can be viewed in any other manner. It’s not a matter of lopping payroll for either club. Grilli is in the final yer of a two-year, $6.25 million deal. He’s collecting $4 million of that this season. Frieri avoided arbitration by agree to a one-year deal for $3.8 million.

Frieri still has two more years of arbitration eligibility (2014 was his first year) while Grilli will be a free agent after this season.

Tags: Ernesto Frieri Jason Grilli Los Angeles Angels Pittsburgh Pirates

  • JBubs

    “Change of scenery” means changing leagues, and that means both pitchers facing a new group of hitters not familiar with each other. I look for the effectiveness of both pitchers to spike and then return to current levels after the hitters have had time to figure them out.