The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly traded for veteran reliever, Jason Grilli.
The Toronto Blue Jays have started the trade period early this season. It wasn’t just lip service when president, Mark Shapiro said the club would start exploring these moves around the 40 game mark. It may have taken a bit to play out, but the Blue Jays have added a bullpen piece in Jason Grilli from the Atlanta Braves.
The clubs have not confirmed the deal as of yet, but Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet brings us the story (that Mike Wilner was able to confirm) of the interesting little deal. Apparently, the Blue Jays will get Grilli and are expected to pay very little on this deal. Grilli’s 2016 salary is set at $3.5M. If the expectation are correct, the Blue Jays will pay the league minimum on this deal. And, all it reportedly cost them was Sean Ratcliffe, a 21 year old righty who pitched in Lansing last season. Ratcliffe is from Ajax, Ontario.
In Grilli, the Blue Jays are receiving a 39 year old reliever who has had some success in a closer’s role. Of course, that is not the expected role for an aging arm who is declining in velocity. He’s lost a couple mph on his fastball, according to Fangraphs. Still, nearing 40, his velocity is sitting at 92 and 91 on the two seamer. Some will point to his declining velocity and write him off as a less than effective weapon. To that, we can perhaps take solace in the fact that his fastball still has a wFA/C of 1.26. There’s at least something there, even if his other offerings have negative values.
Of course, this season has not exactly made this deal one to get excited about. Grilli’s walk rate has doubled thus far to 16.1%, which is double his mark of the last few years. The other thing that might scare you is that he’s given up 1.09 HR/9. Considering he’s now entering the AL East, that is something to keep an eye on. In 17 IP this season, Grilli has surrendered 10 ER, 2 blown saves, 2 holds and 2 saves. He’s picked up 23 strike outs in that small sample. The worse concern is that his current ground ball rate is just 18.6% compared to a flyball rate of 58%.
In a season where the Blue Jays bullpen has been downright disappointing, any kind of help would be welcome at this point, even if it is a reliever who is far from his past performance level. When you take into account that this deal cost the Blue Jays next to nothing, it looks even better. Even if Grilli is riding on fumes, it is more than what is in the current Blue Jays tank.
This should also be a good sign for the doomsday-ers out there. This club is making efforts to address areas of concern and is not content with sitting on its hands. To some, that might be bigger news than the deal itself; that the club is doing something.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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