Before we get to the main feature, the Jays have also signed former first round draft pick, Wade Townsend, to a minor league contract. Wade was 8th pick overall in the 2004 draft by the Orioles. He has been released by the Orioles and the Rays, and his minor league numbers don't exactly shout potential. But then our minor league teams need enough pitchers to cover all the innings. Also, the Nationals signed former Jay fan favorite Kevin Mench. Mench spent last year with the Hanshin Tigers of Japanese baseball league.
But the real news, as noted in Syc's fanpost is that we've signed Kevin Gregg. He will make $2.75 million next year and has options for 2011 and 2012 that could make the deal worth $12 million. Gregg will be 32 next year, he's been in the majors for 7 seasons with the Angels, Marlins and Cubs. The last three seasons he has been in 74, 72 and 72 games so he is durable. He has 85 career saves, all but one in the last three years. He strikes out about a batter an inning. You can see his numbers here.
This past year was a tough one for Kevin, with a 4.72 ERA. The worst was he gave up 13 homers for a rate of 1.7HR/9, but he had much better rates the two years before (0.8HR/9 in 2007 and 0.4HR/9 in 2008). So the question is: is 2009 his new level of performance or will he bounce back to his previous level of play? He throws hard and has always been a fly ball pitcher. Perhaps the heavy workload caught up to him last year. If home runs remain a problem, he is in the wrong division, Yankee Stadium in particular would be a bad place for him.
It does seem like his signing adds to an over crowded bullpen. The Jays say Gregg will compete with Scott Downs and Jason Frasor for the closer job, but perhaps one of those two will be traded away. I'd imagine. Actually it's easy to admit that I don't know what the plan is. The plan might be that the Jays hope Gregg will have a very good first half of the season and become a nice looking trading chip at the trade deadline. That seems like a strange reason to sign a player but who knows.
Without a trade we have the following players to fill (most likely) 7 bullpen spots: Gregg, Downs, Frasor, Carlson, Accardo, Camp, Janssen, Hayhurst, Tallet, Valdez, Roenicke. Oh and Zechry Zinicola, who has to make the roster or be offered back to the Nationals. Throw in anyone that doesn't make the starting rotation like Scott Richmond. You could even throw in a wild card like Dustin McGowan, who could be healthy and doesn't have any options left. How would you like the job of picking who makes the team out of that group.
One or some of them could leave in a trade. We still could use a right fielder and Anthopoulos keeps talking about trading for a young shortstop. Relievers don't don't generally carry a lot of trade value but some of those guys have track records (Downs, Frasor), some have potential (Carlson, Roenicke, maybe Accardo) and a swing man like Tallet has value.
Bob Elliot figures there is a trade in the works for Downs. He would seem a logical choice. I know I'd miss him and any team that wanted him would have to give up more than the value of the draft picks we would get for him if he left as a free agent. He will be 34 years old in 2010 so if it will be a couple of years before we contend, moving him while his value is high would be a good thing.
Share your feeling on how it will all shake out. We are only a couple of weeks from when the pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Things could start happening quickly now.