Grilli, 37, was an All-Star and one of the best closers in baseball last season for the playoff-bound Pirates, though he wasn't quite as dominant after a late July arm injury. This season, Grilli has 11 saves, one hold and four blown saves with a 4.87 ERA, 1.62 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings. He lost his closer job to Mark Melancon.
“We are appreciative of all that Jason has done for the Pirates and in our community,” said Pirates general manager Neal Huntington in a statement. “We believe that adding Ernesto Frieri was a good move for our bullpen. He has been an effective late inning reliever who, despite his struggles to date this season, has solid indicators that cause us to believe he will be a quality addition to our bullpen this season and potentially beyond.”
The Angels will be Grilli's seventh MLB team.
Frieri has also lost his job as closer, as Joe Smith has taken over the role for the Angels. The 28-year-old right-hander has never been an All-Star, but like Grilli he was dominant recently (mostly in 2012, but some parts of 2013, too). This year, though, has been a disaster. Frieri has 11 saves and three holds with three blown saves, but he also sports a 6.39 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
The move actually makes a lot of sense for both teams. It's a classic change-of-scenery with the hopes that it helps get a guy back on track.
Grilli was 27 of 28 in save chances with a 1.72 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings before his injury last season. Frieri was 23 of 26 in save chances with a 2.32 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings in 2012 after he was traded to the Angels.
So each team will hope that their new reliever reverts to past form. It's entirely possible we see at least one of them (I'd bet on Grilli first) back in the closer role this season, too.