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January 4, 2011

O's agree to terms with Gregg on two-year, $10 million deal with club option for 2013

The Orioles added another important piece to the back of their bullpen today, agreeing to terms with veteran right-hander Kevin Gregg on a two-year, $10 million deal, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The deal, which is pending a physical, also includes a club option for 2013 that could vest if Gregg is able to finish a certain number of games during the 2012 season. The negotiations, which started when the Orioles made an offer nearly four weeks ago at the winter meetings, intensified with Alfredo Simon's recent legal troubles in Dominican Republic.

Foxsports.com was the first to report that the two sides reached an agreement.

Gregg, who saved 37 games for the Toronto Blue Jays last year, is the third free-agent reliever to sign with the club this offseason, joining Koji Uehara, who re-signed with the Orioles, and Jeremy Accardo, Gregg’s teammate at times last season.

Although naming the club’s closer will be a decision for Orioles manager Buck Showalter and may not officially be determined until the spring, Gregg, given his expected contract, is likely first in line for saves.

If he falters, the Orioles have Uehara, who ended the 2010 season by converting 13 of 15 save opportunities, and lefty Michael Gonzalez, who was signed last offseason to a two-year, $12 million deal to be closer but picked up just one save in 2010 because of injuries and ineffectiveness.

Gregg, 32, has saved 23 or more games each of the past four seasons with three clubs.

He became the Florida Marlins' closer in 2007, saving 32 games under former Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Gregg saved 29 more, while blowing nine chances, for the Marlins in 2008. He converted 23 of 30 save chances for the Chicago Cubs in 2009 and then set a career high with 37 saves (in 43 chances) in his lone season with the Blue Jays last year.

He’s considered a bulldog with no fear and a desire to take the baseball in any situation. His weakness last season, however, was control. He walked 30 batters while allowing 52 hits and striking out 58 in 59 innings -- recording a less-than-stellar 1.39 WHIP.

In his career, he has saved 122 games in 150 opportunities.

He is one of six current Orioles relievers to have recorded double-digit saves in at least one major league season, joining Uehara (13 in 2010), Gonzalez (a career-high 24 in 2006 with the Pittsburgh Pirates), Jim Johnson (10 in 2009), Simon (17 in 2010) and Accardo (30 with the Blue Jays in 2007).

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 2:37 PM | | Comments (43)
        

Comments

Can't say I'm a fan of the signing, but at least we didn't give up a draft pick and now that he's on board, I'll root for Gregg.

I will say this... I hated seeing him come in against the O's last year. With the exception of one game, I believe, we couldn't get to him. So as long as we bring him in against the 2010 O's, he'll be lights out...

Jeff and all bloggers.

If this was another Rosenthal report...Let's not all forget what has been said about him reporting non-sense, such as, i don't know, a teenager running the team?

Believe it when i see him in Uniform!

I'm fine with it. In an offseason during which any veteran with a live arm got a 3-yr deal, grabbing a solid guy at 2 years and market value is fine. Moreover, Uehara and Gonzalez are still the best relievers on the roster, and having a guy like Gregg will allow them to pitch in higher leverage situations before the 9th inning, which is where a team's best relievers belong anyway.

Agree Jim, believe it when I see it.

Gotta say that at least the O's signings this winter aren't vested in players suddenly doing much better than 2010 (Atkins, Gonzalez, etc.).

Before you say "how about last year for Lee," I'll take it, considering our 1st base production the last couple of years.

I'm happy to see the FO still making acquisitions. I know that some on here weren't fans of a potential Gregg-signing, but I'm happy with it. He will fill another whole, and make ST exciting as he and Gonzo and Koji fight for their position in the 'Pen.

I know that we did not get that knock-out FA this season (as of yet), but with the additions of Reynolds, Hardy, Lee and Gregg and Accardo, it's getting interesting.

The report from from Morosi, not Rosenthal. It's legit - Connolly and Zrebiec are more or less confirming.

Gregg alone isn't a monster a la Soriano, but this is more about building bullpen depth and having competent, MLB-quality options for late-inning matchups. I got so sick of watching guys like Albers and Alberto Castillo limp out there and get pounded last year.

Now, you get 6 innings out of a starter and hand things over to JJ, Uehara, Gonzalez, and Gregg. I'd say that's a step in the right direction.

Jeff Z.

Was this a Rosenthal Article?

Dennis - Agreed, plus remember that Lee had a relatively serious injury that he played through all of last year, and even if he does nothing but match that production it will be an upgrade over last year. I think there is reason to believe we'll benefit from an improvement over his 2010 numbers. If we can now sign/acquire a veteran starter I will be thrilled with the off season.

$5 million per year and two guaranteed years for a mediocrity like Kevin Gregg is a pretty drastic overpay.

Gregg is what he is -- a guy who will turn 33 next year, who gives up a ton of baserunners, a fair number of flyballs and HRs, and has a decent but non-elite strikeout rate. He's better than Alfredo Simon, of course, but I'm not sure that he's $5 million better than Z. Random Minorleaguer.

I'll put it another way: In 2012, I sure would rather have an extra $5 million per year to sign Prince Fielder than I would this guy.

How soon they forget. Simone saved 17 last season, or has he already been written off?

Once Izturis, Lee and Gregg are added, there'll be one spot left on the 40-man roster. Who's gonna get it? Max Ramirez? Will Ohman? A mysterious starting pitcher?

Jeff- Two things I am curious about. (1) Did the O's sweeten their offer over the last couple of days given the Simon situation and (2) do teams ever make a signing such as this with one eye on the trade deadline? It seems to me that we're building bullpen depth and assuming we're hopelessly out of it (again) at the trade deadline, we may be able to pick up some still much needed minor league prospects for one or more of our relievers.


...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: 1. Don't know exact specifics but yes. 2. Sure, teams want to get the best available player to fill needs but they think about what they can get by moving a certain player at the deadline.

Koji should be the closer until/unless his performance warrants replacing him. The guy throws strikes, doesn't walk hitters, and doesn't give up many hits in that role. Yeah, he gave up a homer to A-Rod, and a lucky opposite field homer off a good pitch, but he was nearly untouchable other than those. You don't fix what ain't broken.

Andrew T. nailed it. I don't think highly of Gregg, and I'm thinking that he will have a pretty forgettable couple years here.

However, there is a useful aspect to this deal, and it is thus:

The FO and McPhail are good and shrewd negotiators who are dedicated to a successful team. I'm directing this at many of the commentors on here who constantly denigrate our FO. We had a great offseason so far. GREAT. The only team in our division who did better is Boston, and there's wasn't all perfect, as they acquired Matt Albers!

Hopefully they have not only showed the rest of MLB that they are serious about winning, but also showed members of this fanbase, who can be quite delusional (especially on these boards), that we are serious about winning, and that real-life front offices aren't like the ones in video games.

Glad to have Gregg in the bullpen. Koji and Gonzalez seem fragile and prone to injury. At least Koji throws strikes and seldom walks anyone. The closer role is not the best thing for someone who walks a lot of hitters. A guy who has trouble throwing strikes is also likely to throw too many pitches out over the plate in the sweet zone. Also not a good trait for a closer.

But the O's seem to have enough in the bullpen now to give Buck choices for his closer, and to go with the hot performer.

And the comment about Lee's production for 2011? If he can avoid injury, he should have a banner year, given the hitter-friendly ballpark where he will play half his games.

I give the O's credit because this was the guy they wanted and they signed him.

I think Gregg would be a monster as a set up man and not the closer, but that's for Buck to determine.

I know the O's had no interest in Soriano this winter and I am glad. He was awesome in 2010, but that was his only big time year as a closer. He's had health issues and we already have enough guys in the pen with those issues.

I'm not saying he is absolutely fantastic but vandenhurk looked good coming out of the pen so I like how our pen is

Does this in your mind rule out a Balfour or Soriano signing?

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Yes

I've never been a Gregg fan (too many walks), but I'd gladly take him over a similar contract and our 2nd round pick for Grant Balfour.

In terms of the back end of the bullpen. I'd love to see Buck just go with whoever is on a roll. Closer schmoser. Saves schmaves. Unless you've got Mariano Rivera, your relievers are going to be inconsistent year to year, so why define roles?

That said, having three, possibly four relievers with closing experience (I'm not counting JJ) sounds pretty good to me.

@ Jim and Seth: The deal was reported by JP Morosi, not Rosenthal. Anyway, Z never reports that a deal is done until a deal is done, so what's with the doubt?

after Simon was arrested, they had to do something right?

Another passenger boards the ex-Cubs train to Maryland!!

I've noticed a discouraging trend in these reader-comment blogs. When potential player acquisitions are discussed, 75-80% of commenters on a particular player (e.g., Gregg) are positive and hopeful that the player will be signed.

Then, when Gregg (or anyone else) actually GETS signed, the comments run about 55% negative.

Evidently, a bird in the bush is worth two in the hand.

1.39 WHIP scares me, but I'd take that over Simon's second half ERA near 8.00.

Let's sign another starter and get this season going!

Alfredo Simon may have created an open roster spot, even though shooting a gun at a large party is "an accident" as he said.

The gm said shoring up the bull pen was one of his major off seaon priorities. He actually has done that.

I got my La Quinta hotel room and games in Sarasota on the 28th and 29th of March! Resign Kevin, with this lineup, he'll be fine in 2011.

PLAY BALL !!

I have to give the front office credit. While they unfortunately didn't land any superstars, they have addressed almost all of their needs (a veteran starter being the exception -- and the lowest priority on the list). We now have power at both corner infield positions, an offensive upgrade at SS, a great defensive fill-in with Izzy, and several good arms in the bullpen. I don't expect to challenge the Bosox for the division, but this team has a fighting chance to finally break .500, and if the planets align, could actually be in the wild card mix late into the season.

When it's all said and done, I think MacPhail had an excellent Hot Stove season. He upgraded the club at third base, shortstop, first base, infield bench, and the bullpen.

Not too shabby, to say the least.

And bettter yet, he did all this with the loss of only one reasonably quality player (David Hernandez).

Mac can and does drive you crazy with his unbelievably slow pace, but, in the end, the turtle gets there just as quickly as the hare, I suppose.

And as much as I hate saying something nice about the man, credit must be given to Peter Angelos for letting Andy do his job and, when necessary, forking over the bucks to allow the job to get done.

I agree with SmittyATL; signing Gregg is not lile grabbing Rivera or Lee Smith Sutter or someone like that, but it does give Buck serious options, all of them pretty good, for specific situations. Now, I don't know that I'd spend a ton on Vlad, but he sure would look good as the RH DH, wouldn't he? As Smitty said, if the planets align, if the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, this team could, just could, be playing meaningful games in September. Wouldn't that be fun? Go RAvens!

Most everyone is complaining. I don't anyone can say our lineup and bullpen doesn't look better now than a year ago. These are steps in the right direction to show they are serious and potentially land a big free agent or two next year.

Of course it's going to come down to our starting pitching. Need one more vet that can eat some innings.

Jeff
couple things for you
first, do you see Will Ohman coming back to o's to fill a bullpen spot?
secondly, who do you think the o's are targeting on the starting pitcher front?

Great work Jeff
Keep it up

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Ohman is in the mix, but I wouldn't handicap who is the favorite. He's represented by Gregg's agent so undoubtedly his name has come up in their talks, but don't think there have been any significant negotiations. As I've said, I don't have a name of any potential starting pitching targets. When/if I do, I'll happily pass it along, but I know the O's aren't enthralled with any of the available options.

probably overpaid, but a result of the current state of the O's.

Maybe, look to see management try Johnson as a starter again - may be easier on the arm.

Jeff Z.

Just a random question........Remember the kid Almonte that was in the Little World Series? Any word on what happened to him?
____________________________________________
Response from Steve Gould:

Paraphrased from an ESPN.com article by Tom Friend (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=cerda):

Almonte actually made it to independent ball -- albeit very briefly. He started six games for Southern Illinois of the Frontier League in 2007, going 0-1 with a 5.28 ERA (allowing 30 hits and 19 runs, 18 earned, in 30 innings). He flamed out quickly and because he lasted less than 90 days as a pro was eligible to play junior college ball. He ended up at Western Oklahoma State College, where in 2008 he went 7-1 with a 5.59 ERA (partially because of winds on the prairie -- seriously) but was more impressive as a hitter, batting .497 while playing right field. Almonte hoped to be drafted in 2008 but was not selected.

I'm a huge optimist, but think: if Koji returns to last year's form, Gonzo to 2009 form, and Gregg to ... well I don't know much about him ... to $10 million dollar contract form, our bullpen could be a sweet little thing.

Gregg's control issues are somewhat of a concern. IMO he was very fortunate to pile up the saves that he did last year. For entertainment purposes, it's exasperating to watch the bases get filled up in the 9th inning. It's the equivalent of playing Russian roulette in slow motion.

I'd much prefer Koji as the closer, but I'll defer to the wisdom of Buck. I only hope that Gregg wasn't given any promises, or that he won't become a malcontent if he doesn't get the role that he obviously wants. Gregg may be a great guy. It's just a concern.

The other moves that were made this winter were brilliant. I'd say that this one is ok.

I think that Gregg was a good signing. It bolsters our pen.

DON STANHOUSE part two! Get your beer, and cigarettes ready when he come in!

Fullpack returns...

AL east: The Red Sox are vastly most improved and the Orioles vastly most changed. Assuming all the O's new acquisitions upgrade from last season I'm taking my guess:
Red Sox 96-66
Yankees 88-74
Jays 84-78
Orioles 81-81
Rays 78-84

Lunatic: your handle is well chosen. You're predicting the following:

(a) The Orioles' second- and third-tier additions will make the team 15 games better; and

(b) Losing Carl Crawford and several relievers will make the Rays 18 games worse.

I suspect you're wildly over-estimating the effects in both directions, and I would wager any amount of money that the Rays will finish ahead of the O's this year.

Bad signing. Big overpay. I'll root for him, but we're paying for saves and that's a sucker's deal. I hope I'm wrong!

One simple question - why?

Why pay this $ for just a "guy". Let me do the math...122 out of 150...he blows 1 out of 6 saves! Wonder what that number turn into when it's a 1 run lead he's trying to protect.
Bottom line, this guy is absolutely not a Major league closer. In fact, he'd rank in the bottom quarter of closers in baseball. So either they just signed a crap closer for cheap, or they paid $10 million for a very average middle reliever with attitude issues...yes i watched some Jays games last year, and particularly enjoyed watching him implode against the rays multiple times, and then give Cito a big 'tude when he came to scrape his [butt] off the mound after giving up 7 straight walks & hits etc...
I just do not understand this one. Like someone above said, save this $ and use it for a star next year, or save it and use it to sign a real ML closer like Soriano, or at least Fuentes.

Lame. He will suck, mark my words.

Why are fans always so concerned about how much money a player costs, as if the players salary will be deducted from the paychecks of the fans? This team has built a great surplus of revenue and absolutely refuses to re-invest any of it back into the team. Now fans believe that their last names are Angelos and that its their responsibility to save the team money. WHAT EVER McPHAIL IS SPENDING, IT ISN'T ENOUGH.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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