Jason Grilli

Pirates, Angels swap closers Jason Grilli, Ernesto Frieri

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The Pirates and Angels have swapped struggling closers, as Jason Grilli will head to the Angels and Ernesto Frieri will join the Pirates, MLB.com’s Tom Singer reports.

Frieri, 28, enjoyed some success for the Angels in his new role as the closer last season, but faced unending difficulty this year. The right-hander is 0-3 with 11 saves in 14 chances and a 6.39 ERA. He struck out 38, walked nine, and allowed eight home runs in 31 innings.

Grilli, 37, lost his role as the Pirates’ closer to Mark Melancon when he went on the disabled list with a strained left oblique on April 21. He returned on May 23, and manager Clint Hurdle put him back in the closer’s role on May 30, but the results weren’t much better. Overall, Grilli was 0-2 with 11 saves in 15 chances and a 4.87 ERA. He struck out 21, walked 11, and allowed four home runs in 20 1/3 innings.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn’t immediately slotting Grilli in to the closer’s role, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. It’s not yet known how this trade will affect current Pirates closer Melancon. Melancon has performed well in the role for the Pirates thus far.

Report: Giants close to signing closer Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.

Blue Jays sign Steve Pearce to a two-year deal

NEW YORK - MAY 09: Steve Pearce #28 of the Baltimore Orioles looks on from the dugout during the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 9, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)
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Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Blue Jays have signed Steve Pearce to a two-year deal worth $12.5 million.

Pearce, 33 had some health issues in 2016, but he hit .288/.374/.492 across 302 plate appearances when he was on the field and he mashes lefties in particular. Pearce is versatile as well, logging time at first base, second base, right field, left field, and DH in 2016 while splitting time between the Rays and Orioles.