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 empathize with the Oregon Ducks’ 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 to appreciate Gregg’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, Gregg’s never been considered an elite reliever. Gregg’s career numbers (4.14 FIP, 1.39 WHIP) suggest he’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 sniff the majors — which 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 man’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 he’s near the end of his career. There aren’t many available slots 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 Gregg’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 Reds’ re-shaped bullpen.

In obvious symmetry with Gregg’s career, the reality is probably somewhere in the middle. If Aroldis Chapman suffered a high ankle sprain dismounting from Joey Votto’s horse “Nibbles” following a jaunt around Great American Ball Park, at least three additional Nibbles-induced high ankle sprains would need to occur before Gregg received a legitimate shot at Reds’ closing gig.

And that’s fine. The Reds aren’t asking Gregg to be a stopper; they just want to see if he can contribute.

8 Responses

  1. preacherj

    I really like this signing. Very low risk. Guy knows what he is doing, and if the elbow holds up he could be like Aroldis Chapman in this regard: he could give us a meaningful 40 innings or so. ……see what I did there?

  2. lwblogger2

    Really loving the new writing talent that has been brought in this year. Another really strong piece. Looking forward to reading more!

  3. Grant Freking

    Thanks for the love, guys. Regarding Chapman, I could see the Reds using him much more this season. Maybe not necessarily stints of two innings, but more 1.1 to 1.2 inning appearances. That difference sounds negligible, but it adds up in the long run. Plus, the Reds might as well use Chapman as much as they can since he’s unlikely to be here long-term. (At least in my mind.)

    • lwblogger2

      Yeah, I don’t think they’d want to throw a big contract his way as a closer. It’s possible they will, as they seem to greatly value closers, but I don’t think they will.

      • redmountain

        The difference from the past is that they have plenty of arms in development so his loss would not be noticed as much.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The club really low-balled Chapman with their arbitration offer.

      • gerald

        Maybe they were trying to highlight the lesser value of closer vs starter