Needing immediate pitching help for a team that has fallen into last place, the Orioles acquired reliever Jason Grimsley from the Kansas City Royals last night for Double-A starter Denny Bautista, parting with one of their top prospects for the chance to gain depth and experience.
Grimsley, 36, is joining his sixth team since breaking into the majors in 1989. He's 3-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 32 appearances, allowing 24 hits, walking 15 and striking out 18 in 26 2/3 innings. Opponents are batting .238 against him.
Jim Beattie, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, said Grimsley will be used in a right-handed setup role similar to Mike DeJean, who signed as a free agent last winter.
"He's a guy who's been able to pitch in that role and help bridge the gap between the starters and closers," Beattie said. "He'll make us deeper in the bullpen."
Beattie said discussions with the Royals have been ongoing for almost a month, with Grimsley the primary focus.
"We let the Royals know awhile ago that we were very interested in doing something and they were at a point where they needed to feel out all suitors, so it took us a little while to get to this point," Beattie said. "But we felt we were fairly aggressive with it all and got it done."
DeJean has mostly struggled since joining the Orioles, though his ERA has come down to 6.91 in 28 2/3 innings. Grimsley, who agreed to an extension through 2005 before the trade went through, gives the club another option for the late innings.
"It's more a matter of [helping] the entire pitching staff," Beattie said. "This isn't the failure of any one guy. It's just a matter of giving us better depth and experience in the bullpen. Mike DeJean has been pitching better lately, but we still felt we wanted to do this. We wanted to improve ourselves."
It comes at the expense of a pitcher who immediately vaulted to the top of the prospect list after the Orioles acquired him from the Florida Marlins on Aug. 31 for first baseman Jeff Conine.
Bautista, 23, was 3-5 with a 4.74 ERA in 14 games at Bowie. The Orioles recalled him May 25, but he allowed eight runs in two relief appearances covering two innings before being returned.
The Orioles discovered this spring that Bautista was 2 years older than his listed age. He went directly to the minor league complex after obtaining his work visa and leaving the Dominican Republic.
"We're trying to build the organization, but at the same time we felt [Grimsley] was a guy who's going to be around for a while," Beattie said. "Denny is going to be a good, young pitcher, but it could take a little time. We felt like we wanted to try to get something done now."
Grimsley also provides another right-hander in case Rodrigo Lopez replaces Eric DuBose in the rotation. DuBose went on the disabled list Sunday with bone chips in his left elbow. And reliever Rick Bauer was going to be sent down to Triple-A Ottawa before the Orioles put him on the DL with nerve irritation in his right elbow.
Beattie will meet today with manager Lee Mazzilli and the coaching staff to discuss the rotation. "No decision has been made," Beattie said.
Asked whether another move could come outside the organization, Beattie said: "We still have a few other things we're pursuing. You never know if they're going to happen"
Grimsley is 38-50 with a 4.76 ERA in 13 seasons, including stints with the Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, California Angels and New York Yankees. Since signing with Kansas City before the 2001 season, he leads the AL with 251 appearances and is second with 72 holds. He's posted a 3.94 ERA and pitched in 70 or more games the past three years.
Career stats for right-handed pitcher Jason Grimsley, who was acquired by the Orioles yesterday:
Year, Team W-L ERA G IP BB SO
1989, Phi. 1-3 3.54 4 18 1/3 19 7
1990, Phi. 3-2 3.30 11 57 1/3 43 41
1991, Phi. 1-7 4.87 12 61 41 42
1993, Cle. 3-4 5.31 10 42 1/3 20 27
1994, Cle. 5-2 4.57 14 82 2/3 34 59
1995, Cle. 0-0 6.09 15 34 32 25
1996, Cal. 5-7 6.84 35 130 1/3 74 82
1999, NYY 7-2 3.60 55 75 40 49
2000, NYY 3-2 5.04 63 96 1/3 42 53
2001, K.C. 1-5 3.02 73 80 1/3 28 61
2002, K.C. 4-7 3.91 70 71 1/3 37 59
2003, K.C. 2-6 5.16 76 75 36 58
2004, K.C. 3-3 3.38 32 26 2/3 15 18