Grilli 'couldn't be happier' to be back with Pirates
After eight organizations, 14 professional seasons and several potholes and detours along the way, Jason Grilli's long journey took him back to where he said he always wanted to be.
“I'm pretty ecstatic,” the 36-year-old right-hander said Wednesday at PNC Park after the Pirates officially announced his return to the club.
No financial terms were revealed, but the Tribune-Review reported Monday his two-year deal is worth $6.75 million. It was a bonanza for a free agent relief pitcher who several times has been traded, sold and released, recovered from two significant elbow injuries and came back from a knee injury that nearly ended his career and forced him to miss the 2010 season.
Grilli last year made $1.1 million, his biggest salary by far until now. At least eight teams reportedly were interested.
“My decision was pretty easy when it came down to the positives and negatives,” an ebullient Grilli told reporters with his parents, Steve, a former big league pitcher, and Kathy looking on. “The city itself, how it's welcomed me. The fans especially.
“I conceded money for the joys of what this area brings. I know what's going on here. I know what matters to me. This was just the right fit for me. The comfort of knowing where I'm gonna be. The mound ... I couldn't be happier being a Pirate again.”
Grilli, taken by the Giants with the fourth overall pick in 1997, emerged as a quality reliever and fan favorite after joining the Pirates midway through the 2011 season and going 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 28 games. Last season, as the main set-up man, Grilli went 1-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 58 2⁄3 innings. He struggled in September as the Pirates continued to fade, but his 32 holds were fourth in the majors and second in the National League.
With trade rumors continuing to swirl around closer Joel Hanrahan — the Dodgers were mentioned Wednesday as the latest possibility — Grilli figures to assume the role if Hanrahan is dealt.
“I've been through enough in my career that I welcome any opportunity,” he said. “I've done everything in the middle, and now I'm doing it at the end. I've (closed) a few times.”
Considered one of the clubhouse leaders, Grilli knows something about diplomacy. He added, “I'm not trying to push Hanrahan (out). I've talked to Hanny, and that's something I can't control. I know we're a pretty good tandem, and I'd hate to lose a guy that I know. Arguably, we're a couple of the best bullpen guys you can have out there. I hope we can do that.”
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said of Hanrahan and Grilli, “They were a dynamic pair at the back end of the bullpen last year, and that's our best team, absolutely. Jason and I were open with each other during the process, option one, option two, option three, option 97 in terms of how it could play out.
“(Grilli) is prepared to take the ball in meaningful situations late in the game ... and we fully believe that whether it's with Joel or without Joel, Jason's gonna be an important part of the late-inning games we're supposed to close out.”
Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7810.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Pirates pitcher Happ agrees to $36 million, 3-year deal with Blue Jays
- Pirates sign free agent 1B-OF Goebbert, RHP Webster
- Pirates sign independent league pitcher
- Pirates, Orioles had trade talks involving 2B Walker
- Pirates’ Marte lauded as baseball’s best left fielder
- Rossi: Baseball should retire Roberto Clemente’s No. 21
- Pirates season opener moved to April 3