It should come as no surprise to anyone that Zach Greinke is the top starting pitcher on the market this offseason. He may not turn out to be the best value, but he is the best. It helps that Cole Hamles and Matt Cain signed extensions this season, but that doesn’t take away from how good Greinke is. He made my list of aces last month and I’m comfortable saying he would be the #1 or #2 starter on every team except the Phillies.
Most reports seem to indicate Greinke will fetch a deal of 5-6 years worth $95-$120 million. His most recent employer, the Angels are heavily in the running, but every MLB will likely kick the tires. He would make every club better, it will just be a choice of how much you can afford to spend on your rotation.
Some in the media have speculated Greinke won’t fit in a big market because of a history of anxiety and depression, and what is clearly an introverted personality. I think their view is wrong in the sense that he couldn’t excel there, but he might choose a smaller media market because he will enjoy it more.
I think all other things equal, he’d avoid Boston or New York, but won’t rule them out based solely on the media narrative that he can’t handle them.
So if we agree Greinke will command a deal of the size I predicted and that every team in baseball would benefit from having him, who are the likely Greinke suitors?
The Angels are the obvious choice because they jettisoned Santana and Haren to free up the money. They loved him down the stretch there and he would fit in well with Weaver and Wilson going forward. The Angels have the resources, the need, and the familiarity to make them a player.
The Rangers make sense, too. They have the payroll flexibility and could use a reliable frontman instead of their revolving #1 spot of the last few years (Darvish, Holland, Harrison, Lee, etc). The Yankees and Red Sox both need pitching, but Boston seems better able to afford it than New York considering the Yankees’ desire to get under the luxury tax cap by 2014. The Orioles and Blue Jays should be in, but maybe not at the asking price.
Many speculated that the Royals could reunite with Greinke, but adding Ervin Santana’s $13 million seems to have indicated they won’t be making a push. The White Sox could be interested given their push to trade for him in July, but it’s hard to say if their recent extension to Peavy will block out too much money in the short term.
In the NL, the Braves, Cubs, and Dodgers seem like possible fits. Obviously we learned last year that the Mystery Team is usually involved, but this seems like a pretty accurate list of teams that will play big on the right hander.
For me, the team that signs Greinke will be in Los Angeles. It will be the Angels or the Dodgers. Both have the money and the need and both are good environments to pitch in. There will be a lot of teams involved, so predicting the landing spot is tough, but I’d take these two clubs against the field.
It’s not every year that you can add an ace to your staff through Free Agency, and it’s not every year that the market is as soft as it is this year. Translation? It’s good to be Zach Greinke right now.