With the Trade Deadline just 11 days away, the Pirates continue to actively pursue relievers, particularly pitchers who could help fortify the back end of the club’s bullpen. Jason Grilli may not so much fill that type of late-inning role, but the Pirates do hope he can nonetheless provide a boost for a team chasing a division title.
Once Grilli passes a physical, the Pirates are expected to announce that they have signed the 34-year-old right-hander. That announcement will not come before Wednesday’s game and might not occur until Thursday.
Though manager Clint Hurdle said he would hold any comments on the topic until after the signing is official, he noted that Grilli is someone the club has been eyeing.
“We have interest,” Hurdle said. “We have made a call on a number of people. I think what we’re also letting people know is that we’re not going to sit back and listen to the tremendous astronomical asks that are being presented to us for some of the other personnel we’ve made contact on.
“We’re going to be creative, and we’ve talked about a number of guys who are in the Minor Leagues trying to find their way back with some Major League experience. He would fall into that category.”
News of the acquisition was actually released by Grilli, who, shortly after midnight, tweeted: “Black & Yellow! Black & Yellow! Black & Yellow! Cannot wait to join the new squadron.” Grilli has since followed that up with a tweet that links to an article about the Pirates.
Asked to comment on Grilli’s tweets, general manager Neal Huntington provided the following statement: “We are aware Jason has been released to pursue a Major League opportunity. We are interested and optimistic, but conversations continue.”
The Pirates will need to add Grilli to both the 60-man and 25-man rosters. Chris Leroux seems the likeliest candidate to come off the Major League roster in order to open up one of those necessary spots.
Grilli did not pitch in 2010 due to right knee surgery and signed a Minor League deal with the Phillies this winter. That contract included an out clause that Grilli could trigger on June 1, but the right-hander was on the disabled list at that time.
Grilli returned to the mound later that month and has continued to do well for Triple-A Lehigh Valley since. In 28 games this season, Grilli has a 1.98 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. He has limited opponents to a .217 batting average.
He has played parts of eight seasons in the Majors since making his debut with Florida in 2000. In 238 career appearances – the last of which was with the Rangers in 2009 – Grilli has posted a 4.74 ERA. He has notched 262 strikeouts and walked 161.
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