After two good seasons with the Halos, Frieri, 29, lost his closer job twice this season because of a 6.39 ERA / 4.97 FIP / 1.355 WHIP in 31 innings. This is a far cry from, when he sported a dominant 2.31 ERA in 66 innings. “Ernasty” was good again in 2013; however, he did begin his struggles in late July -- where his low point actually occurred -- and ended up with a 3.80 ERA over 68 2/3 frames. Overall, Frieri's numbers have been better outside of the closer role. But it looks like the Angels had enough.
Frieri was originally acquired by the Angels in May of '12 from the Padres for Alexi Amarista.
On the flip side, Grilli, 37, lost his role as the Pirates’ closer after excelling in that spot for the past two seasons. Jason was terrific in three straight seasons in Pittsburgh, where he combined for a 2.74 ERA in 141 1/3 innings. In 2014, however, Grilli has a 4.87 ERA / 5.36 FIP / 1.623 WHIP in 20 1/3 innings.
This is a very interesting move. And maybe a change of scenery was needed for both hurlers. This could still work. But then again, it may not.
Here’s what I think is really happening with this trade…
Frieri is making $3.8MM in his first year of arbitration. Grilli is in the final year of a two-year contract, and is making $4MM for this season.
This most likely was a salary swap, and a trade of obligations, present and future. Frieri will be under team control through 2016. Grilli is a free agent after this season. The Angels will also pay a pro-rated salary to Grilli, probably about $2MM for having him half the season.
This deal also allows the Angels to just release Grilli or let him walk via free agency, instead of dealing with the hoops of parting with a player under arbitration. The expiration of Grilli's contract would then free up another $2 million, on top of the $30 million coming off the books from the contracts Vernon Wells, Joe Blanton, and Sean Burnett.
I think this move was about more than just fixing the bullpen. It looks to me like the Angels are thinking ahead here.
Plus, this may be indication that Jerry Dipoto also had enough of Mike Scioscia trying to work Frieri back into the closer role. Everyone on the planet knows Ernesto is at his worst in that spot. This was probably the case with Raul Ibanez as well.
And in case you’re wondering, Mike Scioscia has already stated that Grilli will not jump into the closer role.