The Pittsburgh Pirates re-signed reliever Jason Grilli to a two-year, $6.75 million deal on Monday, nearly a week after Grilli and agent Gary Sheffield were set to announce the reliever's destination at the Winter Meetings. The 36-year old Grilli blossomed in a big way for the Pirates in 2012, pitching to a 2.91 ERA in 58 2/3 innings while striking out 90 batters and walking only 22.
The general consensus is that multi-year deals for relievers are bad news, but two years isn't all that terrible. Grilli's salary over the two seasons is also less than both Brandon League and Jonathon Broxton will make per year in their three year deals signed this offseason, making it a bit more palatable in comparison. I'm shocked that the Pirates were able to get such a good contract out of Grilli after his fantastic 2012 season and with the way the rest of the winter has played out, with various LOOGY-tyoe relievers (Sean Burnett and Randy Choate, come on down!) getting multi-year deals of their own.
After successfully retaining Grilli for the next two seasons, you have to think the focus of Pirates GM Neal Huntington will be to deal closer Joel Hanrahan, a free agent after the 2013 season that is entering his third year of arbitration projected to make $6.9 million, a huge chunk of change for a team like the Pirates. Grilli actually outperformed Hanrahan in 2012 despite the latter's 2.72 ERA, striking out 23 more hitters and walking 14 fewer in one fewer inning of work. In fact, Grilli was actually worth a full win and a half more than Hanrahan this past year, once again beating the point home that reliever performance is fungible and small market clubs shouldn't siphon so much of their payroll into one player. With Grilli back, there's no need for the Pirates to hang on to Hanrahan and pay him for 2013, and I'm sure they're hoping they can work out a deal with a team to take the closer off of their hands.