Pirates Had Interest in Luke Gregerson, Who Isn’t Getting Traded

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports that the Pirates and the Red Sox are both “sniffing on” San Diego Padres reliever Luke Gregerson.

Luke GregersonGregerson has a 2.91 ERA in 43.1 innings this year, with an 8.1 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9 ratio. Those numbers are in line with his career numbers. He’s been a dominant reliever throughout his career, and has a year of control remaining. He’s making $3.2 M this year, and is eligible for arbitration one more time in 2014.

The fact that the Pirates are “sniffing” at Gregerson doesn’t necessarily mean they’re actively pursuing him. In fact, the Pirates never pay for relievers, so dealing for an established guy would be an extreme change in their approach. The bullpen hasn’t been an issue this year, and Gregerson would be a luxury, especially if Jason Grilli returns before the end of the year.

I’d do a trade values on him, but the fact is that the trade values for relievers are extremely hard to determine. Relievers have very little value. Gregerson has been worth less than a win, despite his great numbers the last few years. Even if you put him at a 1.0 WAR, he’s worth $1.4 M, which is an older Grade C pitching prospect. If that was the actual value, then the Pirates should make the deal. But the value for relievers tends to be much higher, especially around the deadline. I could see the true price for Gregerson being a Grade B hitting prospect or higher. We’ve already seen high prices paid for rentals like Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Veras, so Gregerson is sure to command a lot.

The Pirates don’t need relief help, and they don’t need depth, so there wouldn’t be a reason to pay for Gregerson.

James Santelli’s Analysis:

It is difficult to evaluate Gregerson because he has played every season of his five-year career in San Diego. Not only does that mean pitching at hitter’s nightmare Petco Park, but pitching in the evenings when the cooler weather makes the marine layer denser and more difficult to hit through.

Therefore, the best way to analyze Gregerson is using three stats: strikeouts, walks and groundball rate. He strikes out about 23 percent of batters, which would put him 2nd in the current Pirates bullpen, behind only new closer Mark Melancon. His slider is still his swing-and-miss pitch, and it’s a very good one. Though it’s not at the same level as Hanrahan’s hammer, Gregerson’s slider gets whiffs on about 40% of swings to put above average among reliever breaking balls.

The right-hander goes slider-heavy because his fastball averages only 88 miles per hour. But his overall strike-zone command is good, as he walks only 6 percent of batters. Once again, that puts him 2nd among current Pirates relievers and trails only Melancon. He will not have a blowup where he walks batter after batter.

The only downside: Gregerson is not a ground-ball pitcher. His 48 percent grounder rate means he is not the reliever you would choose when you need a grounder for a double play; that would remain the realm of Bryan Morris and Jeanmar Gomez.

If the Pirates acquire Gregerson, it is easy to see him slotting as Melancon’s setup man, allowing the team to use Justin Wilson in more particular spots against left-handed hitters. The 29-year-old would not light up PNC Park’s radar gun, but he is a healthy pitcher who would be very effective in middle relief when Jason Grilli returns.

UPDATE 2:44 PM: Ken Rosenthal says the Padres probably won’t move Gregerson after trading a few relievers today.

UPDATE 3:04: Jim Bowden says Gregerson isn’t getting traded.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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I would rather get Javy Lopez and then use Wilson or Watson as a set up man.


no way would our bullpen have three lefties in it.


Watson and Wilson can get righties out too though. It would just their availability even more flexible if we had a lefty specialist.


they did trade for qualls last year…i would like to see gregerson if we could give away very little like a declining project….i have watched him over the past few years and he would be an asset if grilli has a set back


But the Qualls “trade” was basically just a free acquisition since it only cost a guy they wanted to dump anyway (McGahee).


“In fact, the Pirates never pay for relievers”…

+1, you could have stopped right there.

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