Sep 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Luke Gregerson (44) throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning of the 2014 American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
#2 Relief Pitcher: Luke Gregerson
The A’s have assembled a fearsome bullpen over the last few years (one that deserves more credit in the success of Billy Beane and Bob Melvin‘s Moneyball team), and the success of this year’s unit had a lot to do with offseason acquisition Luke Gregerson. The A’s have become adept at turning players they don’t really need, or are going to lose, into effective plug and play pieces. Acquired for Seth Smith, a solid player who ultimately was not overly valuable to Oakland, Gregerson joined Ryan Cook, Fernando Abad, O’Flaherty, and Sean Doolittle in a bullpen with machine-like efficiency.
In his first four seasons, all in relief with the Padres, Gregerson never once allowed his ERA to exceed 3.25 and also managed to lower it each season. He was traded to Oakland this past offseason and pitched even better than he did in San Diego. He recorded a 2.12 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 72 IP for the A’s behind improved control; Gregerson pitched to a career best 1.9 BB/9 and in turn achieved another career best 176 ERA+; not far behind American League leader Chris Sale‘s 178.
Gregerson will not be a cheap acquisition. But he is superbly consistent and would be a tremendous right-handed addition to the 2015 bullpen, certainly an upgrade over Badenhop. Gregerson has never been given a consistent opportunity as a closer but has the talent to do so, and at 30, he has plenty of baseball left. He will be paid as a really good reliever, but if he is ultimately used as a closer, he becomes a bargain.