Grilli a hot commodity

Jason Grilli, a first-time free agent at 36 after an eye-popping comeback season that solidified the Pirates’ bullpen, is turning into a hot commodity on the reliever market.

His agent, Gary Sheffield — yes, that Gary Sheffield, who retired as a player three years ago with 509 homers, tells the Boston Globe there are eight teams interested in the veteran right-hander.

If those eight include teams not turned off by Grilli’s understandable wish for a multi-year deal, the Bucs would not be one of them. The Pirates would very much like to retain Grilli, who struck out 90 in 58 2/3 innings and even served as Joel Hanrahan’s back-up closer. But they subscribe to the popular belief that the bullpen is a team’s most transient area, relatively easy to overhaul  with young arms, and are very unlikely to offer a multi-year deal to any reliever.

“We have three offers right now.” Sheffield, based in Tampa, told the Boston newspaper. “We’re not in a hurry. There are some things we want to look at a little further. We’re not sure the market has fully developed for Jason.”

All things being the same, Grilli would want to return to Pittsburgh, which salvaged his career by signing him the day after the Phillies had released him in the middle of the 2011 season. But a one-year deal versus a longer-term contract is not the same.

Grilli has been in the Majors on-and-off since 2000, and has earned less than $5 million all that time. His Pirates contract in 2012 — for $1.1 million — was the largest of his career. Thus far.

Tom Singer

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