The Blue Jays have announced via press release that, as expected, they have picked up the $3 million club option on Jason Grilli’s contract, thus ensuring his return for the 2017 season. During his end-of-season press conference last month, general manager Ross Atkins stated that the option was “as near to a no-brainer to pick up as you can get,” and it’s easy to see why.
After a disappointing start to his season with the Braves, the thirty-nine year old experienced a renaissance of sorts when traded to the Blue Jays on May 31 in exchange for minor league pitcher Sean Ratcliffe. He appeared in 46 regular-season games with Toronto during which he posted 3.64 ERA over 42.0 innings, with 58 strikeouts, a 1.119 WHIP, and 3.05 K/BB ratio. He surrendered just one hit and struck out three in 3.2 innings pitched during the postseason.
Grilli did appear to experience fatigue towards the end of the season, giving up ten earned runs in 9.1 innings pitched through September and October – attributable, at least in part, to the fact that Grilli was one of just a few relievers upon whom manager John Gibbons could rely. The performance in the postseason showed that he probably just needed a couple of days off to right himself.
His enthusiastic celebrations quickly made him a fan-favourite, as spectators and tv viewers alike fell in love with Grilli’s fired-up attitude. He has also been credited with providing a valuable veteran voice in a bullpen full of young relievers. Bringing him back for the 2017 season is the first move towards solidifying a bullpen built around twenty-one year old Roberto Osuna, who has been announced as the team’s closer moving forward
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