Reliever Jason Grilli close to returning to Pirates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Pirates are close to landing free-agent closer Jason Grilli for two years at a price between $3 million and $3.5 million, according sources.

The Cubs, Blue Jays, Giants and Pirates have been engaging Grilli in serious discussions over the past few days, sources say, with the Cubs making a particularly strong pitch.

Grilli had been seeking a three-year deal, but each of the clubs is checking in with two years for roughly the same money. With the offers so close, Grilli is said to favor returning to the Pirates, where he pitched the past two seasons.

If the Cubs or one of the other clubs produces a three-year offer, Grilli still could have a change of heart. He is expected to decide at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Grilli was a dominant reliver for the Bucs last season, striking out 90 in 58 2/3 innings. He was 1-6 with a 2.91 ERA overall in 64 appearances for the Bucs last season.

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