As I said yesterday, I'm surprised that there has been no resolution by now with Kevin Gregg. The Orioles offered the free agent right-handed reliever a two-year deal worth between eight and $10 million three weeks ago at the winter meetings. And at the time, several team officials I spoke to sounded pretty confident that they would get their man.
However, their failure to close the deal and the obvious reality that Gregg has offers from several teams on the table and truly wants to sign with a club where he'd be the closer certainly has raised some question marks on whether he wants to be an Oriole.
Perhaps, he does and it just has taken a long time to hash out the contract details. If he doesn't, the Orioles do have other comparable options. This isn't like the first base situation where if the Orioles fail to land Derrek Lee or Adam LaRoche, they'll likely have to settle for either signing a designated hitter and moving Luke Scott to first, or comb through the scrap heap for possible solutions.
While I simply don't see the Orioles putting up the cash and years to acquire All-Star closer Rafael Soriano, big right-hander Jon Rauch, who the Orioles have some interest in, had a 3.12 ERA and saved 21 games in 59 appearances for the Minnesota Twins last year. Grant Balfour pitched to a 2.28 ERA in 57 outings for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010, though he'd cost the Orioles their second-round pick. Brian Fuentes, the deceptive left-hander, combined to go 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA and 24 saves in 48 appearances for the Twins and Los Angeles Angels this past season.
Then, there are much cheaper options, such as former Orioles closer Chris Ray, Manny Delcarmen, Chad Durbin, Chad Qualls or Aaron Heilman.
Gregg saved 37 games for the Toronto Blue Jays last season and brings a bulldog mentality that will help any bullpen. If he signs, he'll join an Opening Day seven-man bullpen that will likely include Koji Uehara, Jim Johnson, Michael Gonzalez, Jeremy Accardo and Jason Berken. The Orioles would then have several options for that seventh spot, including Rick VandenHurk, Troy Patton, Alfredo Simon, Pedro Viola and Rule 5 selection Adrian Rosario. There is also the chance that they'll sign another left-handed reliever, such as Will Ohman, Joe Beimel or Ron Mahay.
However, if Gregg opts to pitch elsewhere, I see other options available that if added, would still have to make Oriole fans feel pretty good about the state of the team's bullpen heading into the 2011 season.
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