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Braves daily news digest 12/24: Atlanta adds another piece to bullpen

The Atlanta Braves signed veteran reliever Jason Grilli to a two-year deal on Tuesday and other news and notes from around Major League Baseball.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Braves News:

Braves sign former Pirates closer Jason Grilli

The Atlanta Braves signed former Pirates' closer Jason Grilli to a two-year deal worth approximately $8-million. The deal also is said to include a third-year option. Grilli is 38 years old and split last season with the Pirates and Angels. He notched a 4.00 ERA while recording 12 saves and 57 strikeouts in 54 innings.

Naturally as soon as the deal was announced, some started to wonder if this could mean that Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel was available. That doesn't appear to be the case as John Hart discussed with the AJC Tuesday night.

"We're building around (Kimbrel) in the pen," Hart said. "We have (setup) options with Carp and two guys in Johnson and Grilli that have many saves, are not afraid of crisis (situations) and still have good stuff. Pen and team leaders who'll pitch from the sixth inning on. We like our depth."'s Mark Bowman writes that the Braves have approximately $12 million left to spend but have several needs remaining.

The Braves still have approximately $12 million to spend as they attempt to complete their roster reconstruction by signing a starting pitcher, a backup catcher and a bench player who would be targeted to serve as the primary pinch-hitter.

Hall of Fame Candidate Breakdown: John Smoltz

Will Smoltz's time as a reliever hurt or does it just add to his Hall of Fame candidacy?

I do expect Smoltz to get in this year, his first on the ballot. Even if he doesn't get in, he'll still receive a lot of support and should appear on more than half the ballots, rather easily too. Smoltz had the longevity, a strong peak that included a Cy Young, was excellent in the postseason, and his reputation is helped by being on a staff with Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine all those years.

Had he stayed in the rotation his entire career and not spent the 2000-04 seasons either hurt or in the bullpen, I believe Smoltz's Hall of Fame case would be much more clear. His case is very strong as it is -- again, I do expect him to get in on the first ballot -- though those years in the bullpen throw a wrench into things. Most see it as enhancing his case, but some voters may see it as taking away from his candidacy.

MLB News

Cardinals sign Jordan Walden to two-year deal

The St Louis Cardinals avoided arbitration with former Braves' pitcher Jordan Walden inking him to a two-year deal. The deal is worth $6.6 million over two years and reportedly contains a club option for a third.

The 3 forgotten free agents of the MLB offseason

SB Nation's Grant Brisbee takes a look at three free agents who are still on the market who would have bettered themselves by signing extensions earlier in their career.

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A daily roundup of Atlanta Braves news from Battery Power