Earlier this month, the Reds inked veteran relief pitcher Kevin Gregg to a minor-league deal. Here are a few things we know about Gregg:
*The 6-foot-6-inch, 245-pound right-hander is a former high school quarterback, so there are likely plenty of almost-40 ex-jocks in the Corvallis, Oregon, area that could empathizeÃ‚Â with the Oregon DucksÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ inability to tackle a similarly-sized signal-caller in the College Football Playoff championship game.
*Gregg has been traded for a pair of baseball immortals: Chris Resop and Jose Ceda.
*A 15th-round pick of the Athletics in 1996, Gregg spent his minor-league off-seasons working odd jobs to support his family, including toiling in a steel mill that constructed airplane firewalls.
*In 2011, Gregg engaged in fisticuffs with David Ortiz after the Red Sox slugger failed toÃ‚Â appreciate GreggÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s repeated attempts to throw inside.
*Given that Gregg turns 37 in June and is coming off August surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow, his career as a major-league reliever may be over.
Despite a trio of 30-save seasons, GreggÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s never been considered an elite reliever. GreggÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s career numbers (4.14 FIP, 1.39 WHIP) suggest heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hovered around the realm of league average for most of his career — no small achievement given the amount of professional baseball players who fail to sniffÃ‚Â the majors — whichÃ‚Â serves as an explanation for the fact that the Reds are seventh organization to employ Gregg. (Gregg has earned over $19 million in his career, a testament to the manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s years of hard work, but also to shrewd deal-making by his agent as well as various front offices overvaluing relief pitching.)
Look, Gregg knows heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s near the end of his career. There arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t many available slotsÃ‚Â on major-league rosters for an old (by baseball standards) reliever with a damaged pitching elbow.
The signing of Gregg is a classic low-risk move by the Reds. The worst-case scenario for the club is Gregg fails to regain velocity on his fastball in spring training and is lit up like one the Christmas trees he sells, further demonstrating that GreggÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2014 numbers with the Marlins (9 innings pitched, 11 hits, 10 earned runs) are the new normal for him. In this hypothetical situation, the Reds would cut Gregg (and eat $1.5 million) or send him to the minors.
The best-case scenario for the Reds is Gregg becomes a Pat Neshek-esque revelation and finds a complementary role in the RedsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ re-shaped bullpen.
In obvious symmetry with GreggÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s career, the reality is probably somewhere in the middle. If Aroldis Chapman suffered a high ankle sprain dismounting from Joey VottoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s horse Ã¢â‚¬Å“NibblesÃ¢â‚¬Â following a jaunt around Great American Ball Park, at least three additional Nibbles-induced high ankle sprains would need toÃ‚Â occur before Gregg received a legitimate shot at Reds’ closing gig.
And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fine. The Reds arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t asking Gregg to be a stopper; theyÃ‚Â just want to see if he canÃ‚Â contribute.