NASHVILLE — After pitching for a half-dozen teams over 10 years in the majors, overcoming a devastating injury and stints in the minors along the way, Jason Grilli finally is about to hit his big payday. The 36-year-old reliever is on his way to the winter meetings and is expected to choose from among nearly a dozen suitors, including the Pirates. Grilli wants a multi-year deal, and there’s speculation he could get two years and $7 million. If he gets a handful of offers with roughly the same dollars and years, the deal-maker could be whether or not Grilli is used as a closer.
In 92 games over the past two seasons with the Pirates, Grilli went 3-7 with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.161 WHIP. For his career, Grilli is 21-25 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.413 WHIP. Three of Grilli’s five career saves came with the Pirates. Those numbers would soar if Grilli rejoins the Pirates and closer Joel Hanrahan is traded. Hanrahan is likely to make around $7 million next season and will be a free agent in 2014. The Pirates, who are expected to have a 2013 payroll of about $70 million (not including portions of salaries that will be paid by other clubs), don’t want to shell out $10 million — roughly twice as much as emerging star Andrew McCutchen will make — for two late-inning relievers.
Grilli blossomed last summer as Hanrahan’s setup man, and ranked second in the NL with 32 holds. His deadliest weapon is the fastball, and Grilli ranked fourth among NL relievers with 13.81 strikeouts per nine innings. This year, Grilli made $1.1 million, which was about as much as he made in 2009 and 2011 combined. He sat out the entire 2010 season while recovering from knee surgery.
»»» I saw Casey McGehee in the lobby a little while ago. He and his wife were checking out of the Gaylord and were eager to make the two-hour drive home to see their kids. “We’ll be back before nap time,” McGehee said, laughing. McGehee said he enjoyed his brief stint with the Pirates and had good things to say about Russell Martin, whom McGehee got to know a little after he was traded to the Yankees last summer. McGehee is a free agent and is still listening to offers. He would not be a good fit to return to Pittsburgh, as he’s seeking more than a bench job.