Should the Dodgers Re-sign Zack Greinke?

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Ever since word spread that Dodgers’ Co-ace, Zack Greinke, was likely to opt out of the remaining $71M on his contract, sentiment amongst fans has placed resigning Greinke at the top of the to-do list. Greinke a former Cy Young award winner is likely to win his second this year after compiling a 19-3 record and a 1.66 ERA. In his 3 years in LA, Greinke has gone 51-15 with a 2.30 ERA and 13.7 wins above replacement. All of this seems to suggest that re-signing Greinke is a no-brainer, however, it’s not that simple. 

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For starters, Greinke is currently 32 and will pitch the second half of next year at 33. Greinke already has to have a lubrication in his elbow every spring training – something that is certainly NOT going to get better with age. Then there’s the mileage. Greinke has been pretty durable throughout his career which is great on face value, what it means however is that in 12 seasons he has compiled over 2100 innings and over 33,000 pitches (ouch?). Whilst Greinke mightn’t be showing any signs of decline just yet, with that many innings under his belt its bound to come at some point and when it does it can be merciless (just ask Tim Lincecum). In support of Greinke, he already relies little on velocity and instead impeccable command and pitchability. The question is however, can he still be effective when his fastball drops from ~92 to say 88?

Secondly, there is the contract issue. Zack Greinke is going to get paid. There are no two ways around it – no home town discounts, no short term deals, someone is going to have to reach deep into their pockets. Jim Bowden of ESPN predicts Greinke to receive 6yrs/$186M while Jim Duquette predicts 5 yrs and $150M. This means that at some point Greinke will be pitching at 38 possibly 39 years old and making $30 million doing it. This presents two major problems. One no 38/39 year old pitcher is going to provide $3oM of value. Secondly, Greinke’s contract would be completely immovable in those last 2-3 years. In the end you get stuck with paying a guy $30M whilst he provides $10M of value and you couldn’t trade him even if you wanted to. Now with all things considered, re-signing Greinke doesn’t seem so clear cut.

Now no discussion on this issue would be complete without looking at some of the available alternatives so let’s turn our attention there for a little bit.

Firstly, lets take stock of what we have in house. On that front we have Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Brett Anderson And Hyun-Jin Ryu (albeit coming back from a torn labrum. The back end is set with Wood and Anderson, while McCarthy will return just before the All-Star break and should provide some really good innings down the stretch. The top end is a little less settled and there is an obvious hole in the no. 2 spot vacated by Greinke.

At the top of the free agent market sits Greinke, David Price, Jordan Zimmermann and Johnny Cueto. David Price is going to command 7yrs/$200M and would mean our entire rotation is left handed so that’s not a fit. Cueto pitched really poorly with Kansas City and there have been concerns over the health of his elbow for quite some time now so I don’t see a fit there. Zimmermann is a different story. A 30 yr old right hander, Zimmermann was the ace of the Nationals prior to the Max Scherzer signing and slotted nicely between him and Stephen Strasburg. If you want to see more of Zimmermann click here. Zimmerman is predicted to receive 6 yrs and $155M this winter.

On the trade front there are some intriguing options. Matt Harvey, Sonny Gray, Jose Fernandez, Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Stephen Strasburg and James Shields have all been rumored to be available to varying degrees. Matt Harvey would be a great fit and I wonder whether a deal around Joc Pederson and Grant Holmes (plus smaller pieces) would get it done. Obviously most of these pieces (excluding Ross, Cashner, Shields, possibly Carrasco) are going to cost an absolute haul but would look very good next to Kershaw at the top of the rotation.

Obviously LA would welcome Greinke back with open arms, however if he proves too costly there are plenty of talented pitchers available out there that could fill his spot at a lesser cost.

Who do you want to see in the rotation on opening day? Post your top pitching targets or any other thoughts in the comments section below.