The Orioles added another important piece to the back of their bullpen today, agreeing to terms with veteran right-hander Kevin Gregg on a two-year, $10 million deal, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
The deal, which is pending a physical, also includes a club option for 2013 that could vest if Gregg is able to finish a certain number of games during the 2012 season. The negotiations, which started when the Orioles made an offer nearly four weeks ago at the winter meetings, intensified with Alfredo Simon's recent legal troubles in Dominican Republic.
Foxsports.com was the first to report that the two sides reached an agreement.
Gregg, who saved 37 games for the Toronto Blue Jays last year, is the third free-agent reliever to sign with the club this offseason, joining Koji Uehara, who re-signed with the Orioles, and Jeremy Accardo, Gregg’s teammate at times last season.
Although naming the club’s closer will be a decision for Orioles manager Buck Showalter and may not officially be determined until the spring, Gregg, given his expected contract, is likely first in line for saves.
If he falters, the Orioles have Uehara, who ended the 2010 season by converting 13 of 15 save opportunities, and lefty Michael Gonzalez, who was signed last offseason to a two-year, $12 million deal to be closer but picked up just one save in 2010 because of injuries and ineffectiveness.
Gregg, 32, has saved 23 or more games each of the past four seasons with three clubs.
He became the Florida Marlins' closer in 2007, saving 32 games under former Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Gregg saved 29 more, while blowing nine chances, for the Marlins in 2008. He converted 23 of 30 save chances for the Chicago Cubs in 2009 and then set a career high with 37 saves (in 43 chances) in his lone season with the Blue Jays last year.
He’s considered a bulldog with no fear and a desire to take the baseball in any situation. His weakness last season, however, was control. He walked 30 batters while allowing 52 hits and striking out 58 in 59 innings -- recording a less-than-stellar 1.39 WHIP.
In his career, he has saved 122 games in 150 opportunities.
He is one of six current Orioles relievers to have recorded double-digit saves in at least one major league season, joining Uehara (13 in 2010), Gonzalez (a career-high 24 in 2006 with the Pittsburgh Pirates), Jim Johnson (10 in 2009), Simon (17 in 2010) and Accardo (30 with the Blue Jays in 2007).
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