The Blue Jays are suddenly in the market for a new closer after deciding against bringing veteran Kevin Gregg back for the 2011 season.
On Thursday, Toronto declined to pick up the club options included in Gregg's contract, sending him to the pool of this offseason's free-agent class. Parting ways with Gregg removes a veteran arm from the back end of the Blue Jays' bullpen, which also could lose both Scott Downs and Jason Frasor this offseason.
The left-handed Downs and right-handed Frasor -- both setup men for Toronto -- are each eligible for free agency as Type A players this offseason. The Jays are expected to offer both pitchers arbitration, though that is unlikely to stop either reliever from testing the open market in search of a guaranteed multiyear contract.
If the 34-year-old Downs and 33-year-old Frasor decline arbitration and sign with a new team, each would be worth a pair of compensation picks in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Should either player accept Toronto's one-year arbitration offer, a contract with the Jays for next season would be non-guaranteed.
Gregg, 32, is eligible for free agency with Type B status (worth one compensatory Draft pick) now that Toronto decided against exercising his option. Gregg's contract gave the Blue Jays the ability to pick up a one-year club option worth $5.25 million or a two-year club option worth $9.5 million for both the 2011 and '12 seasons.
This past season, Gregg established a career best with 37 saves in his first tour with Toronto, which brought him in on a one-year, $2 million contract last winter. The 6-foot-6 righty posted a 3.51 ERA over 63 games, striking out 58 and walking 30 over 59 innings. It marked Gregg's first 30-save season since he collected 32 in 2007 with the Marlins.
The loss of all three veterans would leave right-hander Shawn Camp as the most experienced late-inning reliever in the Blue Jays' bullpen. Left-hander David Purcey and right-hander Casey Janssen, among others, could compete for more prominent roles during Spring Training, but Toronto will likely look to obtain bullpen help this winter.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.