The deal is known as a "change of scenery" type of trade, as both pitchers have shown brilliance during their careers, but have had a bad season. Grilli had been moved out of the closers position just eight days ago. Frieri was still manning the Angels closing spot, but poorly. A one-for-one deal means that both teams feel Grilli and Frieri can rejuvenate their careers in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, respectively.
On the season, Grilli had posted an 0-2 record with a 4.87 ERA and a 5.36 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). The high FIP means that Grilli's ERA was actually helped by his defense and that he was having trouble striking guys out and avoiding walks. The 37-year-old saved 11 games in 15 opportunities, posting two more blown saves than he did in all of 2013.
Frieri, who's headed to the Pirates, was not much better than Grilli. He posted an 0-3 record with a 6.39 ERA and a 4.97 FIP. While his FIP is lower than his ERA, meaning that Frieri was somewhat unlucky, his season has not been a good one overall. His career FIP is 3.62. The 28-year-old saved 11 games in 14 opportunities, good for a 79% success rate.
The Angels will be receiving a 37-year-old Grilli while the Pirates get a 28-year-old Frieri. This can tell us that the Angels truly think they can contend this season, taking a player who is nine years older than the player they gave up in order to gain an edge. The really only difference between the pitchers is that Frieri still is under contract through 2016, with arbitration due for both seasons. Grilli is owed $4.25 million this year and will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Jason Grilli has more experience than Ernesto Frieri, which is why the Angels want him, even considering the fact that he will be a free agent at the end of the season. Grilli saved 33 games just a year ago, including appearing in four postseason games with the Pirates. Frieri has no postseason experience. If the Angels can make a run, it is now obvious that they would rather have Grilli as closer over Frieri.
It will be interesting to see how the Pirates will utilize Frieri. Mark Melancon, who stepped in for Grilli, has saved 14 games, posting a 2.35 ERA and a 2.34 FIP. He has done a good job. It would be hard to see the Pirates immediately remove him from that spot, considering he has done well. That will be something to watch for in Pittsburgh.
As for now, the change of scenery deal might be able to rejuvenate two careers. It is a fair deal -- the Angels gain experience and the Pirates gain longevity. It does not come down to much more than that.