Analyzing Kevin Gregg’s Trade Value – What Might Be a Reasonable Return?

kevin gregg cubsI still can’t get over how wrong I was about Kevin Gregg.

I’m not criticizing myself, mind you. Sometimes I deserve it, but failing to recognize that Gregg had completely reinvented himself as a 34-year-old is not going to drive me to flagellation. No, instead, I just mean that I can’t get over how hilariously the whole thing has played out. When the Cubs signed Gregg to a minor league deal back in mid-April, here’s what I said, in part:

Today the Chicago Cubs announced that they’ve signed former closer – and former Cub – Kevin Gregg to a minor league deal.

OMGLOL NEW CLOSER ROFL.

No, no. The Cubs have probably been talking to Gregg, 34, who’s been waiting for the right opportunity, for some time now. With Carlos Marmol flailing and Kyuji Fujikawa injured, it’s as likely that Gregg decided to move on the Cubs as it is that the Cubs got desperate. The AAA bullpen has a number of interesting fringe options already, so I just can’t see the Cubs being induced into a Gregg-sized panic at the big league level. Depth never hurts, and Gregg has pitched successfully in the big leagues. For now, the Cubs will stash him in the minors, and see what he’s got left in the tank. That’s all this is.

OMGLOL NEW CLOSER ROFL? Yes, yes, Brett. Yes. Yes.

It didn’t take but two or three appearances for me to start tweeting things like, “Is it just me, or does Gregg actually look good?” Even after a month of effective pitching, I still couldn’t really believe it. Gregg had become the Cubs’ closer, and was now the Cubs’ most reliable reliever. Nothing that happened was Gregg-sized panic – it was Gregg-sized lightning in a bottle.

Here we are, two months later, and, while the numbers still fall in the small sample size danger zone, those numbers match the performance you’re seeing with your eyes. Gregg hasn’t blown a save, his ERA is under one, and he’s striking out 27.8% of the batters he faces. He walks just 8.1% of them, and he’s given up just one homer in 21.2 innings. He’s all about his sinker this year, and his fastball has fantastic movement. He looks poised, confident, and effective every time he takes the mound. I just … I mean … I can’t get over it. It’s hilarious, and awesome.

But, alas, Gregg’s closing for a team without a 2013 playoff future. He’s also a free agent at the end of the year, and we’re approaching trade season. Fortunately or unfortunately, that requires that we view everything he does right now through the lens (or goggle, if you prefer) of trade value. Gregg actually has some now, and teams are interested.

Buster Olney recently wrote about the trade market for back-end relievers, and it seems extremely thin (Gregg is mentioned approvingly among the small handful of available relievers). The best option is probably Jonathan Papelbon, but Ruben Amaro keeps saying he has no interest in trading the Phillies’ closer.

Is it plausible that Gregg could become one of the best closers available on the trade market this year? I’ll spare you the drama: the answer, unbelievably, is yes.

The more important question, of course, is how much could Gregg net in trade? It’s a question we’ve wrestled with here before, and there’s not a clear answer for a guy with such an atypical trajectory.

To give you a sense of the upper boundary – i.e., the absolute best the Cubs could do in a sell trade involving only Gregg – I took a look at a couple prominent closer deals last year at the Trade Deadline involving mere rentals (i.e., guys who were set to be free agents at the end of the year).

Last year, the Royals traded Jonathan Broxton to the Reds for prospects Donnie Joseph and J.C. Sulbaran, and the Mariners traded Brandon League to the Dodgers for prospects Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom. Prior to 2012, Sulbaran was the 12th best prospect in a good Reds system, and Joseph was just outside of the top 20, according to John Sickels. Landry and Bawcom were just outside of the Dodgers’ top 20, again, according to Sickels.

So, as of last year, the market was bearing two legit prospects – not top prospects, but legit prospects – for a quality rental closer. I wouldn’t have thought Gregg could net more than one prospect in a team’s 15 to 25 range, but maybe that sells him short.

It’s important to emphasize that League and Broxton had better track records going into the trades, and it would be fair to have had more confidence in their abilities after the trades than a receiving team might have in Gregg. Then again, I could argue that Broxton, at least, was trending downward before a resurgent 2012 first half with the Royals, and League was nowhere near as effective in early 2012 as Gregg has been this year. I could also argue that the fact that League was making $5 million when he was traded, and Broxton was making $4 million would make them slightly less attractive than Gregg, who is making the Major League minimum.

All in all, could Gregg net the kind of return the Royals and Mariners got? Maybe. My gut says no, but the market is what the market is. If the Cubs can pair Gregg with another player, then I really think we could see a surprisingly strong return. Even without doubling Gregg up, if he continues to pitch this well, I’m starting to think a top 10 prospect in an average system isn’t out of the question, or perhaps two prospects in a team’s top 25. For a guy the Cubs picked up off of the scrap heap in April, that’s incredible.

And, no, I still can’t believe it.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

106 responses to “Analyzing Kevin Gregg’s Trade Value – What Might Be a Reasonable Return?”

  1. Spencer

    I mean, I didn’t expect the kind of return the Cubs got for Maholm and Reed last year, either. I’m not saying they’ll get a comparable return for Gregg, but if he keeps it up, who knows what’s possible? The closer we get to the deadline, the more desperate teams become.

    1. Deacon

      Seriously?? I hope they get MORE than they got for Reed and Maholm by far! The return on that deal is a middle reliever they put on waivers and a “prospect” who hasn’t pitched in a year and a half and just had his second elbow surgery!

  2. Josho

    But we gotta keep Gregg and try to win 68 games instead of 66!!! Duh, Brett. He’s staying. We have to build that “winning culture” around here. No sense in getting some “non-guarantee” for him. That would be stupid!

  3. Josh

    Garza/Gregg to Detroit does that seem possible? Or is Soriano/Gregg more realistic?

    1. Josho

      Garza I don’t think makes any sense for Detroit at this point. I realize Anibal has some shoulder issue, but the have Smyly in the pen, just waiting to start and then that kid from Triple-A who started for them last Sunday. Forget his name.

  4. Oswego chris

    I am getting suckered in again…I like watching him pitch and I absolutely love the story…
    Some pitchers figure it out late…that’s why I would be fine with a team friendly extension for Feldman…

    Very team friendly…

  5. steve123

    I personally think that the fit in Detroit is one that should be considered. I also think that Detroit could use an upgrade in Left field. This could be a fit for either Soriano or possibly Schierholtz. I personally think Schierholtz and Gregg could bring back two solid prospects, one ranking fairly high in Detroit’s somewhat weak system.

    1. steve123

      I wonder is Drew Smyly would be too much to ask for.

      1. Rebuilding

        Unfortunately, Drew Smyly is way too much to ask for. Would love to get him as he is one of the best young leftys in the game, but Gregg isn’t going to get it done

        1. Rebuilding

          I see you included Schierholtz in your proposed deal. Not sure he fits with Detroit. With Austin Jackson back they are set in center and right. They have a Dirks/Tuiososopo platoon in left that isn’t the best, but they have Avasail Garcia tearing up Triple A and Nick Castellanos who will probably end up in the outfield. However, maybe they would want a veteran lefthanded bat to spell Hunter and come off the bench

          1. steve123

            If Schierholtz were to be traded there, I believe that they would move the versatile Hunter to left and put Nate in right. I say this mainly because Hunter has proven he can play anywhere in the OF.

            1. Rebuilding

              I could see that. The Tigers might value Shierholtz’s “World Series experience” and Dirks has been bad. I doubt it gets us Smyly, but Porcello maybe.

    2. Tobias

      Cubs did get Marcelo Carreno from Detroit for Jeff Baker. I believe Carreno was in their top 20 prospects according to MLB.com.

      1. steve123

        I hope to see several more steals this trade deadline,such as receiving Carreno for Baker.

        1. brickhouse

          How is Carreno pitching this season ? I can’t see how it was a steal since this prospect is not playing

          1. Deacon

            Amen, Brickhouse! Carreno also has disappeared and has yet to throw a pich this season. Injured? Who knows…….Thed ain’t talking.

  6. chrisfchi

    Really depends on who is desperate enough and close enough in a playoff race to see what we would get for Gregg. Detroit is hurting for a closer, but i would hold out a lil longer to see what pans out.

  7. The Other Matt

    This is why I have a problem with those who complain about has beens or injury risks who the front office signs. You never know when you might catch lightning, then you have something to work with when you could’ve had nothing. I’m convinced the Cubs front office knows what they’re doing, and certainly expect a winner on the field in a few more years. They may be bad years, but I’m being patient.

  8. Rcleven

    Waiting for Gregg’s arm to fall off.
    Remember this is the Cubs.
    Some of the worst luck in trading players I have ever seen.

  9. gocatsgo2003

    grumble grumble

    BUT SVEUM IS AN IDIOT AND THE FRONT OFFICE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT’S DOING!!! RUN THE BUMS OUT OF TOWN!!!

    grumble grumble

  10. Kev

    Here’s a weird thought that’s probably wrong, but I’ll share it anyway:

    Obviously, Marmol’s outing yesterday diminished his value, but maybe it *increased* Gregg’s value, just because he looks so much better than Marmol does.

    I’M TRYING TO MAKE LEMONADE FROM LEMONS HERE, DAMNIT.

  11. Jason (Thundermug)

    Chris Rusin Complete Game Shutout 9 Inn 5 hits 1 BB and 8 K’s. Been pitching great since beginning of May

    1. Rcleven

      Whats even better. Did it with 93 pitches.
      We have a starter for the second half.

  12. Chris Sanchez

    The Tigers need a closer, If there closer keeps on doing horribly , I wonder what kind of prospects they would give up

  13. Rizzo 44

    Marmol Season Stats
    ERA 6.08
    Games 30
    Wins 2
    Loss 4
    Saves 2
    Save OPP. 5
    INN. 26.2
    Hits 25
    SO 31
    BB and IBB 22
    HR Allowed 6
    Those are just horrible numbers people. Anyone who thinks he should still be on the Cubs please justify to us who think he shouldn’t why you feel that way. I just proved how bad he has been. I’ll be waiting for any positive info on Marmol.

    1. steve123

      I just hope that the cubs waive Marmol and someone tries to snag on to him and we could maybe get a slight salary relief or a fringe PTBNL.

      1. Rizzo 44

        I don’t see this happening. I would cut him and then if Dale still makes dumb moves then I would fire him as well. Dale can only blame Marmol for so long. I say Dale should be fired along with his staff. Then I say dump Marmol. heck anyone with a pulse can do what Marmol is doing.

        1. steve123

          We might as well see if someone else will try to grab him before we just cut him. There may not be any value, but a PTBNL sure beats eating his salary and getting nothing.

    2. BT

      Who is it, exactly, that you think you are arguing with? Do you think there is a large contingent of “Marmol is awesome” people out there? As Steve said, if we are paying him anyway, and since he is not going to cost us the pennant, there is little harm in leaving him on the team to see if he can turn it around (which now seems almost impossible). The Dodgers cut Gregg, because he clearly sucked, and no one here wanted him. I’m fairly certain Marmol won’t become the next Gregg, but if we are already paying for him, it doesn’t hurt to find out. I’m fine with cutting Marmol, but I’m not going to freak out if the don’t either.

      1. Rizzo 44

        That’s okay I’m not going to freak out either. The players don’t trust Marmol and they get tired of the same old stuff. Soriano, Garza, Rizzo and many other guys have spoken up about this. IF you were a GM of any of the other Clubs would you take Marmol? He will be a FA after this year and we will see who picks him up if anyone. And if they do I will bet it will be on a minor league deal. So Why keep him and bring the Moral of the club down even more?

        1. DarthHater

          g1371501318390516090.jpg

  14. SenorGato

    Since the Tigers are a popular team I submit the Cubs target Porcello. Obviously Gregg doesn’t do it by himself. Fortunately the Cubs could be buyers without the buy HAVING to be a Price or Stanton. The system certainly has the quantity for it, and the Tigers’ needs roughly fit the Cubs’ rough strengths.

  15. David

    Gregg and Russel to Detroit for Rondon. He’s Detroit’s future closer, had control issues earlier this year and got sent back down. Throws 100 mph. They need a bullpen overhaul, we need guys who can throw hard and intimidate.

    1. X the Cubs fan

      Too much imo. We give them our 2 best relievers for a guy with a nice fastball that hasn’t proved anything in the Majors.

      1. David

        I think I would do it. It looks like he’s having a pretty good year in AAA. He could be as high as our #2 pitching prospect (behind Johnson).

      2. BT

        Hmm, spare change we found under a seat cushion and a decent lefty for the Tigers #2 or #3 prospect. I dunno, I think maybe I’d do it.

        1. Rich H

          Actually because of Russels age and cost it is probably too much. He is a reliever prospect remember that. He is not a starter. In our system Rondon would not be top ten. He would be Maples with a little more polish and a better heater.

          1. King Jeff

            The Cubs got Travis Wood, Sappelt, and Torreyes for Marshall. I think Russell has to bring at least that in return, he’s younger, cheaper, and under team control for longer.

            1. Rizzo 44

              Good stuff Jeff.

          2. wvcubsfan

            “In our system Rondon would not be top ten.”

            This is a joke right?

            1. Noah

              Rondon would at best be number 8 in my system for the Cubs behind: Baez, Soler, Almora, Bryant (that’s not my order for those 4, but they go above everyone else), Alcantara, Vogelbach and Pierce Johnson at the very least. A pitcher with control issues who can’t start just will never be that high for me.

              1. BT

                That’s fine, but is about as useful as saying “guys with facial hair will never be that high for me”. Rondon is pretty much universally accepted by the baseball community as a top 50-150 prospect in all of baseball, regardless of the fact he is a reliever with control problems.

          3. BT

            The only reason he wouldn’t be a top 10 is because we have a million hitters. He’d immediately jump to the top pitcher in our system. He’s 22, he hits 100 MPH, he’s pitched in the majors, his whip at AAA is currently under 1.00, he’s striking out 12.6 hitters per 9 innings. He was in MLB.com’s top 100 for all of baseball in the pre season. He barely missed the BP top 100. In other words, he’s nothing like Maples.

            1. BT

              sorry, I meant the only reason he wouldn’t be top five.

  16. Cyranojoe

    Gregg+Marmol to the Tigers? I just posted this koo-koo idea in the other thread, but I got no biters and it’s appropriate here. What do you guys think? Worth it to get rid of Carlos, or would you rather nab a middling prospect or two with some other package, and endure Marmol for the rest of the season?

    1. David

      Keep him on the roster, but don’t play him. He’s bad at baseball, all others teams know it.

      1. TWC

        That might be the single most ineffectual idea posted to this website since the middle of the 9th yesterday afternoon. Well done.

  17. Jacob

    Brett, FWIW, Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette were talking about this exact subject today. They both laughed hysterically at the thought of Gregg having trade value and agreed that a “prospect” with one tool to dream on was probably too much. Jim even said that if Theo pulls off a deal for a top 20 organizational prospect he will legitimately campaign for him to be the next commissioner because he’d be magic. So, there’s an unbiased opinion from a former GM, I guess…

    1. Rich H

      You consider Jim Duquette unbiased? He was trying to take credit for all the FO moves in Boston for the last ten years. He has a definite ax to grind. So anything to do with Epstein coming from him is definitely jaded at best.

    2. Hansman1982

      Ahhh, Jim Duquette, proving why he doesnt have an MLB FO job since, well, forever.

    3. King Jeff

      Leave it to Duquette to laugh off a guy with an era+ of 490 bringing back a top 20 prospect.

  18. Phil

    Living in Michigan, I know the Tigers are, or at least should be, interested in getting some relief help. In short, they need a closer. They’ve seen enough of Valverde already this year.

  19. josh

    i think detroit is definitely the team we should be looking at in terms of a gregg trade.

    i think packaging greg with barney could net us a legitimate prospect. possibly castellanos if we add a little more to the package.

    1. When the Music's Over

      Unless the Tigers were blown away, that guy ain’t going anywhere, especially for three guys Cubs fans don’t want on their team (Barney, Gregg and some other minor throw in). If it’s a no brainer in your mind, it likely going to be a harsh no from the other suitor.

      1. josh

        by a little more i didnt mean a minor throw in, i was thinking soriano or schierholtz, it might even take feldman or garza to get this deal done. but detroit is in win now mode and gregg and barney and whoever the 3rd piece is could help them out greatly. there owner is known for making deals like this.

        1. steve123

          This is correct. They sent away 3 minor leaguers including their number 1 to the marlins for Anibal and Infante.

        2. When the Music's Over

          If I’m the Tigers, I’d call up up Castellanos before trading him for a platoon OF, an awful hitting middle infielder and a career average RP in the midst of a small sample size renaissance. They could slide him into LF, as he’s already been playing there all year in AAA. As for Feldman, he’s a nice pitcher and all, but I’m not sure he’s much of an upgrade over Smyly/Porcello.

      2. Bilbo161

        I like Barney as a player on the team. Why do you think Cubs fans don’t want him? He is not an offensive juggernaut of cours but no one expected that. His defense saves runs. We just don’t have the hitters we need elsewhere. If we trade him I expect something good in return. Not even close to a throw-in.

        1. When the Music's Over

          I know there are some BABIP issues, but his hitting is beginning to be so bad that it completely negates his defensive contributions.

    2. steve123

      Barney is almost a downgrade for the tigers at 2nd base as of right now. Infante is playing good baseball, as is Peralta. However, if Peralta does go down with the PED like many think he will, Barney may be a solid replacement at SS. It really depends on what happens with the PED thing. I am hoping it does go through because that also gives us a place to ship Soriano, Texas Rangers, after Cruz goes out.

    3. Stinky Pete

      As much as I want Castellanos, I don’t believe he’s going anywhere.

  20. cubs2003

    Is it just me, or did Kevin Gregg pick up a lot more movement on his fastball? He’s starting to look like one of those guys that could pitch until he’s 40 if he wants to. I remember him as having a fastball that was straight as an arrow. I don’t know if the wear and tear on his arm has actually made him better or maybe it’s just experience. Either way he’s looked darn good. Obviously with a small sample size.

    1. mak

      Agree. And because of that, I don’t know if I want to trade him unless we get a legit prospect. Its real weird, but it’s not like he picked up 5 MPH on his fastball or magical break. So maybe its sustainable?

  21. waffle

    I Agree. My memory of last time on this train Gregg was that his FB was heavy but right down the pipe.

  22. Tyron

    I’d say listing to the offers an if u don’t get
    A top 50 guy . Keep him ., release marmol
    Damnit jed , I need a new team to watch!!,
    idk how u can watch this team play anymore

  23. Noah

    In all honesty, I wouldn’t mind the Cubs seeing if they can bring Gregg back on a cheap deal next season. This is largely because the Cubs don’t have the sort of pitchers in Double A or Triple A that you look at and think will contribute as meaningful relievers in the Majors. You’d hope that Vizcaino will be ready to contribute next year, but the Cubs might try to stretch him out as a starter in Iowa instead. If you can keep Gregg inexpensively, he could be a good option to have pitching in the 8th or 9th next season as well.

    1. Hebner the Gravedigger

      Tony Zych

  24. Boogens

    “…but failing to recognize that Gregg had completely reinvented himself as a 34-year-old is not going to drive me to flagellation.”

    Maybe not, but thoughts of Kim DeJesus will. ;-)

    1. Bilbo161

      Not sure that counts as flagellation. :-)

  25. FastBall

    I say put Marmol on waivers. The Yankee’s will take him because Hendry loved him and Rothschild was the only pitching coach who could keep his head screwed on straight. Wasn’t until after Rothschild left Marmol has the the Complete MotherF***ing Collapse. CMFC is what we call it at house. Like Phil Mickelson.. But I bet Rothschild could get Marmol straightened out in a week. Not that he was a pitching guru. But he was a Marmol Guru. If the Yankee’s sent us a Corned Beef from Carnegies Deli that would be a hell of a deal.

    1. gocatsgo2003

      I’m going to choose to take one of your posts seriously and point out that the Yanks have been talking about avoiding luxury taxes. Acquiring a significant salary without getting rid of any would be counter to that strategy.

    2. Gcheezpuff

      Do you understand what happens when a team claims a waived player? They take the player and his contract without giving anything up unless the waiving team pulls the player back and/or works out a trade. I believe the Cubs would gladly hand over Marmol and contract…. I don’t believe a single team would claim… Including the Yankees.

  26. JulioZuleta

    I don’t think the Cubs should trade their closer closer to the deadline. As the deadline gets closer and closer, the closer’s numbers will likely get closer and closer to his average career numbers as a closer.

    -Sincerely,

    Bored at Work.

    1. gocatsgo2003

      Vulcan-Mind-Meld-150445763

  27. FastBall

    I think Gregg to the Tiggers would be a great trade. Now I have another player to throw in on that deal which might make more sense for the Tiggers than Soriano. I like Barney but he would improve Detroit’s infield defense a ton. I would even add Logan Watkins in that deal along with Schierhotz and take back Porcello and Smyly. Gregg, Barney, Watkins and Schierholz for Porcello and Smyly. Good trade for both teams.

    1. When the Music's Over

      That trade makes negative sense for the Tigers. I don’t think they are going to empty their major league SP roster options for a journeymen closer in the midst of a good year, a backup infielder, a AAA infielder and a platoon outfielder.

  28. FastBall

    If the Yankees are still at the top of their division in 6 weeks they won’t worry for a second about how much money it takes to win the division. The Cubs would gladly eat most all of his salary just to get him out of town at this point. But the Yankee’s are not trying to figure out how to make payroll. They can afford anybody the deem necessary.

  29. Diamond Don

    Gregg, Lake or Vitters, Barney and Soriano to Tigers for Castellanos and Porcello.

    1. Jp3

      Oh no, not this again about Castellanos… Trade everyone for Castellanos!!! Scrap heap and never was for top prospects… Love it

  30. FastBall

    Or simply terminate Marmol’s employment. Pay him to go home and work on his horse ranch in the DR. Just want him gone. He is a cancer on any progress we make. PS: I don’t take any of your posts serious either. :)

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