The San Diego Padres will be avoiding arbitration with Luke Gregerson for the second-straight year. The Padres and Gregerson have agreed to a one-year, $3.2 million deal. Both sides had already submitted their salary figures to the arbitrator who would have ultimately heard the case. San Diego, as they have been known to do in the past, continued negotiations with Gregerson and got the deal done today.
Gregerson's representation firm, O'Connell Sports, broke the news earlier today. Other sources, such as Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, confirmed the transaction. The deal represents a nice pay increase for Gregerson who made $1.55 million last season.
Gregerson has been an impressive piece of the Padres bullpen for four seasons now. He has spent his entire Major League career with the Padres but was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. Gregerson became a member of the Padres organization in late 2008 when the team shipped Khalil Greene to the Redbirds. Gregerson made his Major League debut the very next season.
Last year, Gregerson appeared in 77 games and posted a career-low 2.39 ERA. This comes after his 2011 campaign began to raise questions about his long-term viability. In 2011, Gregerson posted a 2.75 ERA, but his peripheral numbers suffered compared with 2010. He saw his K/9 decrease drastically in 2011 and his hits per nine innings increase. This all led to speculation that Gregerson may not be the bullpen stud the Padres thought he was. He countered those rumors with an impressive 2012 season.
In total, Gregerson has appeared in 290 games and pitched 280 2/3 innings. He has posted a 2.92 ERA in his career. While Gregerson has good stuff, San Diego has been reluctant to use him as a closer. When they traded Heath Bell after the 2011 season, they immediately went out and traded for Huston Street. Regardless, Gregerson has thrived in his role as 7th-inning or 8th-inning set-up man.
The team may look into a long-term extension this season, but it seems GM Josh Byrnes is in wait and see mode with virtually his entire team. Even Chase Headley is still waiting for a 2013 contract. He and the Padres may go to arbitration before his contract is settled. Gregerson, though, could be had for relatively cheap and could keep the team's bullpen frighteningly good for a number of years. He's only 28 years old after all.