The Buc bullpen got a little closer to its 2013 shape today when it was announced by everyone but the Pirates that Jason Grilli signed on again, inking a 2 year, $6.75M deal pending a physical. In his time with the Pirates, he's put up a 3-7-3/2.76 slash with 12.5 K/game rate.
It's good news because while there is some risk involved - Grilli is 36, and his flyball/homerun rate jumped while his groundball rate took a nosedive last year though he could still blow it by people - the Pirates needed a guy that misses bats, has had back-end success and can call on ten MLB campaigns worth of experience to share with a still pretty young bullpen. He may end up closing, and judging by last year, he's worth the shot - his eighth inning ERA/OBA was 3.04/.203; in the ninth, with much less work, it was 3.24/.241.
And while not guaranteed, it also looks like the beginning of the end in Pittsburgh for Joel Hanrahan. The big righty is in line for a $7M payday through arbitration, and on top of Grilli's deal, that $10M+ investment seems out of character for a Pirate bullpen. There hasn't been much market for Hanny yet, but he could either be packaged or traded for an equivalent starter's contract like LA's Chris Capuano, a player who the two teams have already discussed.
As for the makeup of the pen, Chris Resop is gone, but Jared Hughes, Tony Watson and Chris Leroux are back. Indy's Bryan Morris is out of options and should stick, too, although his lack of September work last season is a mystery to us. That leaves at least two spots open.
The Pirates have brought in Vin Mazzaro and Zach Stewart, both who will compete for a slot, and maybe Andy Oliver too, if they opt to add him to the pen mix rather than compete as a starter. The FA market should be tapped for another veteran back-ender like Kyle Farnsworth and/or a lefty like Mike Gonzalez.
Grilli's signing gives Pittsburgh some form to its 2013 bullpen, and they'll add another arm or two before camp. With Grilled Cheese wrapped up and and Russell Martin inked, now it's time to look for a starter...