Blue Jays Rumors: Is Jason Grilli a Target?


Along with looking for much needed reinforcements for the starting rotation, the Toronto Blue Jays have also been searching for some help at the back end of the bullpen. While that may be less of a priority than landing a starter, you can bet that GM, Alex Anthopoulos does not have tunnel vision. He’ll be making calls on potential closers. One such call might be to Atlanta for Jason Grilli.

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe released a series of tidbits about the Toronto Blue Jays recently. One of which is that the club is “looking at” Grilli to fill the bullpen needs. As Cafardo points out, this might be a cheaper option than, say, Jonathan Papelbon, who is certain to be moved this summer. Papelbon will certainly cost more in prospects. As well, the financial commitment will be higher, especially when you take into account that his $13M 2016 option looks to be a lock given his number of appearances.

So, maybe the Blue Jays look south to Atlanta. Grilli was moved into the closer’s role after the Braves sent Craig Kimbrel to the Padres for Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin and two minor leaguers. Now, part of that deal was the stipulation that San Diego also take Melvin Upton, so the package was bigger than what would be required to get Grilli. Atlanta was moving one of the better closers over the last few years and an overpaid OF. 

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

This might be good news for the Blue Jays. After saving 33 games for the Pirates in 2013, Grilli went to the Braves and has 22 already in Kimbrel’s absence. His FIP sits at 2.37 and he’s posting 11.45 K/9 (30% K rate) to just 2.93 BB/9. If he’s to throw at Rogers Centre, his  0.59 HR/9 is important. An interesting side note is that his fastball velocity 94 mph) is the highest it’s the highest it’s ever been. He mixes it with a slider that has been worth 2.5 runs above average.

At this point, Grilli’s been worth 0.9 WAR, which amounts to $7M. But his 2015 salary is just $4.2M. The Blue Jays would be on the hook for the remainder of that. That represents a significant discount over Papelbon. But, what is even more attractive is that he’ll make $3.5M in 2016 with a $3M club option for 2017. That in and of itself is enough to make Alex Anthopoulos pick up the phone.

But, that also means that the Braves are not going to just give him away. As of Sunday, they are 5 games out of first in the NL East.  It is not exactly like they’re ready to throw in the towel. So, they’re not likely to let Grilli go for peanuts. After reaching out to our friends at Tomahawk Take, FanSided’s Atlanta Braves site, they mentioned that a catcher or a power hitter that is a year or two away would be enticing. The only catcher that might get a deal done is likely to be Max Pentecost. I also threw out names like Dalton Pompey, Dwight Smith Jr, Anthony Alford, and Rowdy Tellez. I was just trying to get a feel for what it might take to make this deal happen. After some back and forth, we settled on them agreeing to take Max Pentecost. Depending on which of these names are included, this could be a reasonable asking price. AA might want to throw in the fact that Grilli is now 38 to possibly bring the price down.

So, are you comfortable knowing that we have Russell Martin for 4 more seasons and would have Grilli for likely until 2017 at the price of Pentecost?

To be honest, I was just happy to hear that pitching is not on the list of requests. It seems like all of the pieces that would have to be given up this summer are the valuable arms in the system. But, no one knows for sure what teams will ask for unless they come out and say “We asked AA for ___”. And, that is not going to happen. So, all we can do is give our best guesses. Whatever the demands are, the Blue Jays may be better off dealing for Jason Grilli than some of the other, more costly options.

Next: What Might Teams be Looking for from Blue Jays in a Trade?

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