As first reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed reliever Luke Gregerson to a two-year, $11 million contract. Also included is a 2020 option, with the Cardinals having the option to re-sign Gregerson for $5 million, while a third year is automatically added for $6 million if he pitches in 130 games for the Cardinals.
Gregerson, 33, was initially drafted by the Cardinals in the 28th round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of St. Xavier University. On March 23, 2009, he was sent to the San Diego Padres to complete a previously-completed trade for shortstop Khalil Greene. While Greene was considered a disappointment in St. Louis, Gregerson became a steady bullpen presence in San Diego, where he stayed until being traded to the Oakland Athletics before the 2014 season.
After signing a three-year, $18.5 million contract with the Houston Astros, Gregerson totaled a career-high 31 saves in 2015 and was similarly productive by rate stats in 2016. However, in 2017, his earned-run average jumped from 3.28 to 4.57 and his fielding-independent pitching ERA went from 2.99 to 4.62, although his 3.45 xFIP in 2017 does suggest he may have been a bit unlucky with regards to home run to fly ball ratio. Gregerson was last seen throwing 2⁄3 of an inning, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out one, in Game 6 of the 2017 World Series.
Gregerson was generally not considered a high-level free agent reliever, and this deal reflects that. If he repeats his 2017 performance for two years, it’s a bad contract, but it’s not a devastating one. And because of his recent struggles, he will almost certainly not be counted upon for high-leverage, closer innings, at least not immediately. But if he is able to rebound to his production level from every other season of his MLB career, Gregerson could provide solid middle relief for the Cardinals.