Three weeks ago Kevin Gregg was unemployed. Then he signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs and made his way back to the majors at age 34. And now he’s their closer.
That’s been fairly obvious for a while now, as Gregg has saved five games in two weeks, but whether it’s with Gregg or Carlos Marmol before him manager Dale Sveum has repeatedly avoided actually naming a closer.
Until today, apparently. Asked by Carrie Muskat of MLB.com if Gregg is the guy, Sveum replied: “He seems to be. Gregg’s our closer. That’s pretty much the way it is right now. He’s obviously earned it and there’s a bigger sample out there now to know that.”
Of course, the true “bigger sample out there” suggests Gregg won’t do particularly well in the role long term. He has plenty of closing experience and 149 saves, but Gregg has a 4.08 career ERA that includes a 4.95 mark last year and a 4.36 mark from 2009-2012. He doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts and his control is terrible, although compared to Marmol he throws strikes like an in-his-prime Greg Maddux.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.