Detroit Tigers rumors: Kevin Gregg having career year at age-35

Otto Greule Jr

Kevin Gregg signed a minor-league contract this offseason and assumed the closer duties after Carlos Marmol unsurprisingly struggled. Chicago will likely trade him while his value is at its peak before Gregg reaches free agency this offseason.

No one could have predicted Kevin Gregg's career revitalization upon his return to Wrigley Field. After spending the last two years with the Baltimore Orioles making $10 million and producing a negative WAR in both seasons, Gregg didn't make the Dodgers' roster out of Spring Training. Theo Epstein and Co. picked him up and will have the opportunity to deal him at the deadline.

Stats

YEAR ERA SIERA K% BB% HR/FB% BABIP
2013 1.42 2.91 26.0% 7.0% 8.3% .246
CAREER 4.03 3.86 21.2% 10.2% 8.7% .290

(SIERA: Skills Interactive Earned Run Average; BABIP: Batting Average on Balls in Play.)

Stats via FanGraphs.com

Background

At age-35, this is Gregg's eleventh year in the big leagues. He has 156 career saves, so Fernando Rodney in 2012 is a better comparison than Jason Grilli in 2013. Gregg debuted in 2003 with the Anaheim Angels, pitching 24 2/3 innings and recording his lowest ERA prior to this season. In 2007 Gregg left Anaheim for the Florida Marlins, where he received his first opportunity to pitch the ninth inning. After two unspectacular seasons with the Cubs and Blue Jays in 2009 and 2010, the Baltimore Orioles handed Gregg a $10 million contract over two years. Gregg was 22 for 29 in save chances in 2011 before the emergence of Jim Johnson in 2012. He then signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers, and pitched admirably in Spring Training, but the Dodgers chose to keep pitchers with larger contracts, allowing the Cubs to pick him up.

Why he fits the Tigers

Quite simply, the Tigers need relievers. Gregg can close games, but in the event that Dombrowski trades for a name like Papelbon, Gregg would be fine in the seventh or eighth inning. Gregg is striking out over a batter per inning, and only walks 2.73 batters per nine innings. The Tigers don't need Mariano Rivera; they just need someone who can get the job done. Gregg has shows that he can be a good, but not great, closer in the past.

Why he doesn't fit the Tigers

There's no guarantee that Gregg would continue to be successful after a trade to Detroit. Gregg has only thrown 26 1/3 innings this year, so he could simply be getting lucky. His BABIP is 40 points better than his career average, and he's stranding runners at an 87% clip, compared to a career average of 73%. With a WHIP of 1.03, whenever a runner does reach base, it's likely that the next batter won't and the runner will be stranded, but it's tough to tell whether his recent production is due to luck or skill.

How likely is a trade?

Gregg will almost certainly be dealt to the highest bidder at the trade deadline. Over at Bleed Cubbie Blue, 95% of readers voted that the Cubs should trade Gregg. In order to obtain Gregg, Dombrowski just needs to outbid the other suitors. Colorado and Atlanta are rumored to be interested; a trade to the latter would reunite Gregg and Manager Fredi Gonzalez.

What the Tigers should give up

The cost should not be too high, likely a top-15 prospect. A high-risk, high-reward type prospect such as Austin Schotts could get the job done. A Kevin Gregg trade could be similar to the Jhonny Peralta trade a few years ago, where the Tigers gave up Giovanni Soto, then 19 years old pitching in A-ball.

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