The Atlanta Braves have agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Jason Grilli, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is for two years and includes an option for 2017, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation's MLB Daily Dish.
The 38-year-old Grilli spent 2014 with the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates, as he was moved from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles in a July trade. The former Pirates closer went 1-5 with a 4.00 ERA and a 2.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54 innings pitched, coming over 62 appearances.
The Braves bullpen lost Jordan Walden to the Cardinals in the trade that sent Jason Heyward to St. Louis. They also added Jim Johnson on a buy-low deal, one that was over one-year and worth $1.5 million. Grilli's is another buy-low deal for Atlanta, even though it is not a one-year deal. The Braves now have three relievers that have closed in their careers, Craig Kimbrel, Jim Johnson, and Jason Grilli.
The Braves bullpen posted the 11th-best fWAR and 12th-best ERA amongst team relief pitching last season. This came while posting the 11th-worst strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball.
Grilli has had a roller-coaster career. He was drafted fourth overall in the 1997 MLB Draft, but failed to reach expectations as a starter at the beginning of his career. Grilli appeared in the Majors primarily as a starer in 2001, '02, '04, and '05, as he registered a 6.20 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP in 94.1 innings pitched.
From 2006 to 2009, Grilli worked as a relief pitcher, but was not anything special, striking out hitters at what appeared to be a low rate and walking hitters too often. He worked to a 4.22 ERA in that timespan. Then, in 2013, at age 36, Grilli became the Pirates' closer and was named to his first All-Star team, saving 33 of 35 games and posting a 2.70 ERA and a 5.69 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 50 innings pitched.
Grilli could be a great set-up man for Atlanta, working as a nice right-handed bridge to Craig Kimbrel. For now, this contract looks to be a good buy-low for the Braves. Grilli has the pedigree, and if he can limit the walks while getting the strikeouts, he will pay off majorly for them.