Cubs closer Kevin Gregg went on a tirade in front of the media following this afternoon’s loss at the hands of the Braves at Wrigley Field. Gregg entered the top of the ninth to protect a 5-5 tie, but surrendered four runs in the inning en route to a 9-5 loss. After the game, he expressed displeasure that the Cubs were considering replacing him as closer in 2014, according to Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune.
Yesterday, on ESPN Insider, Joe Kaiser reported that the Cubs were giving Pedro Strop a look in the closer’s role just to see what they had. Manager Dale Sveum was very complimentary of Gregg, who entered today’s game with a 2.90 ERA and 32 saves. Sveum said, “God knows where we’d be without him”.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was not happy that Gregg publicized his complaints. The two had a meeting in Epstein’s office and Gregg apologized, but Epstein is still considering releasing him. Epstein will “sleep on it“.
The Cubs signed Gregg to a Minor League contract in April after the Dodgers released him. Incidentally, Gregg earned a $500,000 performance bonus for reaching his 50th finished game of the season, reports CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.