Kevin Gregg was unable to find a taker this offseason and remains unsigned, but 35-year-old right-hander has not retired and in fact told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times that he’s “ready to go” and “just waiting for an opportunity.”
Gregg saved 33 games for the Cubs last season and certainly thinks he could help their bullpen again this year, telling Wittenmyer he’d be willing to sign an incentive-laden contract and start out as a setup man. There are certainly plenty of worse relievers than Gregg with big-league jobs right now, some of them even in high-leverage roles.
However, being critical of the team’s management at the end of last season surely didn’t help his chances of returning to the Cubs this year. Oh, and Gregg also took a shot at people who don’t believe in the supposed aura surrounding the closer role:
A lot of guys think anybody can pitch the ninth–especially sabermetrics guys who come up with a stat for everything. They think everybody can pitch the ninth inning, but, for some reason, those last three outs aren’t the same.
Of course, “sabermetrics guys” would use Gregg’s career as an example of how “those last three outs” are basically the same. He has 177 career saves despite a 4.07 ERA and was repeatedly given closing gigs despite no one ever really thinking he was a closer-caliber pitcher. More so than just about any other pitcher in baseball history Kevin Gregg is what “sabermetrics guys” talk about when they say the closer mystique is overstated.
Rian Watt of Baseball Prospectus is hearing that a trade that would send Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs involves prospect Gleyber Torres and more going to the Yankees. He adds that the holdup in the trade talks is centered around a contract extension for Chapman, believed to be around four years in length and $60 million total. The deal may not be finalized if the Cubs don’t get him signed to an extension they like. In Watt’s words, “Package is set. Extension is not.”
We learned earlier on Sunday that the Yankees were working hard to trade Chapman, reportedly in contact with at least four teams. The Cubs were not believed to be the front runners but certainly upped the ante by offering Torres.
Torres, 19, is rated the Cubs’ #1 prospect and #24 overall in baseball by MLB Pipeline. The shortstop has spent the season with Single-A Myrtle Beach, batting .275/.359/.433 with nine home runs, 47 RBI, 62 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 409 plate appearances.
Torres is currently roadblocked at shortstop by Addison Russell, and 21-year-old Ian Happ is rated #3 in the Cubs’ system, so the club would be dealing from surplus.
Prior to Sunday afternoon’s game against the Mariners, the Blue Jays designated reliever Drew Storen for assignment and recalled reliever Ryan Tepera from Triple-A Buffalo.
Storen, 28, had a nightmare of a time with the Jays, leaving with a 6.21 ERA and a 32/10 K/BB ratio over 33 1/3 innings. The Jays acquired him in January from the Nationals in exchange for outfielder Ben Revere and a player to be named later.
Storen is owed the remainder of his $8.375 million salary, which makes it likelier that the right-hander will pass through waivers unclaimed. He’ll be eligible for free agency after the season.