Toronto Blue Jays sign closer Kevin Gregg to US$2.75M one-year contract

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TORONTO - Kevin Gregg has signed a one-year contract worth US$2.75 million to pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays this season. And as far as he is concerned, the later in the game he gets to pitch, the better.
"Closing is something that I've sought after," Gregg said in a conference call with reporters Friday. "I enjoy doing it, every aspect of it. That was a big part of me coming over to Toronto, but it's also a young ball club with a lot of potential and I wanted to be a part of it."
The 31-year-old's deal includes a $4.5 million option for 2011, or a two-year option of $8.75 million for 2011 and 2012.
Gregg went 5-6 with 23 saves and a 4.72 earned-run average with the Chicago Cubs last season, a year that was not without its struggles.
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said manager Cito Gaston will decide who wins the closer's role this spring.
"We expect him to pitch late in the game, but again, that will be up to Cito to determine," Anthopoulos said. "We don't have anybody who we've anointed the closer right now. Kevin Gregg has had a lot of closing experience - he's certainly not going to be handed the job, but he'll have every opportunity to compete for that role."
The six-foot-six, 238-pound native of Corvallis, Ore., has 84 saves over the past three years with Florida and the Cubs (2009), and 216 strikeouts in 221 1-3 innings.
"It's one more guy that has experience," Anthopoulos said. "We thought there was value to the contract, as well."
The Blue Jays see the acquisition of Gregg as a way to stabilize their bullpen in the short-term and perhaps increase the value of the right-hander as an asset. He could be flipped at the trade deadline, or bring back compensatory draft picks should he leave as a free agent.
The acquisition of Gregg doesn't mean Scott Downs and Jason Frasor, who shared the closer's role after B.J. Ryan's release, are sure to be dealt.
Both relievers, eligible for free agency after the season, are available, but only for a return similar to the draft picks they'd receive should they sign elsewhere.
"I anticipate going into camp with the number of arms that we do have," Anthopoulos said.
With Downs and Frasor signed to reasonable contracts, the Blue Jays can happily keep and accommodate both until season's end.
Anthopoulos said the Jays are still in contact with some free agents and are looking for "value wherever we can get it."
"We still continue to talk to clubs about various trades," he said. "We have a lot of irons in the fire with respect to trades and also free agent signings, but for me to characterize what I think the likelihood of us doing anything prior to reporting to camp, it's very hard to say."

Organizations: Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, The Blue

Geographic location: TORONTO, Cito, Corvallis, Ore. Florida

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