The Cubs have agreed in principle on a two-year contract with left-handed reliever John Grabow, securing a key player in the bullpen.
Grabow, one of five free agents on the Cubs, was expected to finalize his deal Thursday, the last day the Cubs had exclusive negotiating rights. He had filed for free agency on the 12th day of the 15-day period.
complete hot stove coverage
The Cubs acquired Grabow, 31, on July 30 from Pittsburgh, along with Tom Gorzelanny, and he appeared in 30 games, posting a 3.24 ERA. Grabow set a career high in appearances in 2009, pitching in 75 games total. He held left-handed hitters to a .222 average.
Carlos Marmol, the Cubs' primary setup pitcher the past two seasons, was handed the closer's job in August, taking over for Kevin Gregg.
Gregg, who still wants to be a closer, also is a free agent and was not expected to be re-signed by the Cubs. The other free agents on the Cubs include Rich Harden, Chad Fox and Reed Johnson.
Chicago began the 2009 season with only Marmol returning to the bullpen from the previous season. Now, the in-house pool the Cubs can chose from as bridges to Grabow and Marmol include Sean Marshall, Angel Guzman, Justin Berg, David Patton, Esmailin Caridad, Aaron Heilman, and Jeff Stevens. John Gaub, Blake Parker and James Russell pitched in the Arizona Fall League, and will also get a look this spring.