The Pirates became the latest team to ink a reliever to a multi-year deal, agreeing to a two-year pact with right-hander Jason Grilli worth $6.75 million. Grilli turned 36 on veteran’s day, but plenty of successful relievers are of the aging variety. After all, they just have to get a few outs here and there. Do you think we’ve been banging that drum loudly or what?
Grilli was extremely good in 2012, striking out 13.81/9 and walking 3.38/9 while putting up a 2.91 ERA, 2.80 FIP, and 2.68 xFIP in his 58 2/2 innings of work. He’s likely to keep on rolling for the next couple of seasons so long as his stuff doesn’t desert him. Armed with an effective fastball and slider combo, he shouldn’t have much difficulty in taking care of the middle innings for the Pirates when they need him to. It’s a wonder Grilli didn’t pull in a heftier deal than this one. Oh wait, he isn’t left-handed!
We don’t like multi-year deals for relievers because as a group the non-elite ones tend to flame out at random. Then there’s the whole matter of paying millions over multiple years for guys who barely take the field. As far as two-year deals for relievers go, though, Grilli’s isn’t all that bad. He probably won’t technically earn the money he’s being paid unless he repeats 2012 twice, but he could still provide the Pirates with a shut-down reliever in the seventh or eighth or wherever they use him. Grilli also doesn’t have a problem facing opposite-handed hitters; in fact, he showed a bit of a reverse platoon split last season (righties managed a .767 OPS against him, while lefties came in at a paltry .485). Plus, it isn’t like there weren’t considerably worse reliever contracts doled out over the past few weeks. We’re cool with this.