With the loss of Grant Balfour and the rest of the bullpen, the Rays have to add some arms to the staff. There are a few names out there being mentioned and two of them have connections to the Rays. Jesse Crain of the Minnesota Twins and Kevin Gregg from the Toronto Blue Jays are names that Ray fans should watch closely this Winter.
Jesse Crain is a middle relief pitcher and someone that could take the place of Grant Balfour in the 6th, 7th, 8th inning role. Last season with Minnesota, Crain pitched in 71 games, compiling a record of 1-1, 1 save, 3 blown saves, but recorded 21 holds. Crain pitched 68 innings, giving up 58 hits, 27 runs (5 home runs), walked 27, and struck out 62. He finished the season with an ERA of 3.04 and allowed hitters just a batting average of .215. Crain has pretty good command of his off speed pitches, combined with an average fastball. Crain is a reliable pitcher and would do well with the Rays and would be excellent addition to help the bullpen and late game situations. The question is, what is the asking price on him? He has stated he wants a multiyear contract and that could mean big bucks for the Rays, something they are just simply not going to do. I don’t see Crain pitching for us, but there are some rumors surrounding him.
The other name is closer Kevin Gregg. Gregg has hoped teams the last few years, from Florida Marlins, to Chicago Cubs, and now Toronto. Gregg finished the season with a 2-3 record and 37 saves (6 blown saves). He pitched in 63 games, throwing 59 innings, giving up 52 hits, and 24 runs. He also gave up 30 walks and struck out 58 while compiling a 3.51 ERA and holding opponents to a .237 batting average. Gregg does have a very live fastball with a lot of breaking movement. He is often a bit out of control on deliveries and struggles with command, but can get out of innings when he settles down. Due to command issues, he gives up a lot of hits and walks. The Rays need a closer and with doubt around Jake McGee, he may be a candidate and could be a low price option and low risk for the Rays. I personally don’t like the idea, unless they get him for a very low price. He is too wild and will be a headache in the 9th inning, the Rays would be better spending their limited money elsewhere.
With Winter meetings upon us, these rumors will only continue to grow, so sit back and watch the madness unfold.