Decision time is looming for Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.
He has to decide by Thursday, November the fourth whether to renew the option on Kevin Gregg for one year at $4.5 million, or two years at $8.75 million. Or, the third choice, the Blue Jays can let Gregg enter the free agent pool.
It seems unlikely that Anthopoulos would let Gregg go without first ensuring that they have someone to take his spot. The problem is, none of the Jays pitchers seem like they are ready to take on a full-time closer role, and free agents are only available once the option has expired on Gregg.
A new rule has been instituted by the league that gives teams a limited five-day window to negotiate with their free agents, instead of the previous fifteen-day time period.
That would mean that the Blue Jays also only have five days to sign new contracts with Scott Downs, Jason Frasor and John Buck. Since both Downs and Frasor were determined to be Type-A free agents, the Jays would receive four draft picks in total if they were to sign elsewhere.
If the Jays were to let these two go through free agency, and then didn't renew the option on Gregg, that would considerably deplete their bullpen. The Jays certainly aren't lacking in young arms, but the management has often claimed their preference for veterans in the relief role.
It is a strong possibility that the Jays would keep at least one of the these three pitchers to provide leadership and a steadying influence. The one-year option on Gregg is the easiest solution since he fills the necessary closer role.
Of the other two pitchers, Downs is a left handed set-up man with fantastic numbers and will be highly sought after. The Jays chances of outbidding the competition on Downs is limited, so they might be quite happy with taking the two compensatory picks.
So it would seem that Frasor would be the less desired commodity of the two, and has the better chance of being retained by the Jays simply due to the price.
Update: The Blue Jays declined both options on Kevin Gregg's contract, making him a free agent. Anthopoulos wanted to have room to manoeuvre in free agency and trades, so they didn't want to sign someone when they might have a chance to get better. There is a chance they might still sign Gregg, Downs or Frasor to a new contract, but it will be after they have considered what their choices are.