UPDATE: Our own Craig Calcaterra reports that Grilli is re-signing with the Pirates, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.
Jason Grilli’s breakout season as a setup man in Pittsburgh made him a very popular free agent target and agent Gary Sheffield (yes, that Gary Sheffield) has said the right-hander is close to signing.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com he’s narrowed the choices down to the Pirates, Cubs, and Blue Jays, with a two-year deal expected wherever Grilli winds up.
Grilli was a marginal big leaguer for a decade or so, but in two years with the Pirates he threw 91 innings with a 2.76 ERA and 127 strikeouts. That works out to 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings, which was the fifth-highest strikeout rate in baseball during that time behind only Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, and David Robertson.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.