With almost four months until Spring Training starts, we still have plenty of time to be unrealistic and insane. Today pushes the limit a bit with Zack Greinke. Fox's Ken Rosenthal believes that the Los Angeles Angels have lost leverage with Greinke because of their moves involving Ervin Santana and Dan Haren thus far this offseason.
Could the Tigers be added to that list? You never know.
Who is he?
Now 29, Greinke has come a long way from the young prospect who struggled with anxiety issues when coming through the Kansas City Royals' organization. He has topped 200 innings in four of his last five seasons, with the lone exception being a very underrated 2011 season in which he went 16-6 and struck out 10.5 batters per 9 innings with the Milwaukee Brewers. Last year, Greinke combined to go 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 34 starts split between the Brewers and Angels.
Why should we care?
With apologies to the incumbent Anibal Sanchez, Greinke is the best pitcher on the free agent market this winter. He "only" struck out 8.48 batters per 9 innings in 2012, but his numbers across the board were the best he has had since his 2009 Cy Young season. Simply put, Greinke has become one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball and will get paid like it this winter.
Beyond the more obvious numbers, Greinke's value lies in his gaudy splits at Comerica Park. In a not-as-small-as-you-think sample of 13 starts at Comerica Park, Greinke is 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA. Granted, part of this is because he owns the Tigers -- 13-6 with a 2.74 ERA against them lifetime -- but his continued dominance over them in their home park is encouraging.
Why should we stay away?
Aside from the money? Greinke has relied more heavily on ground balls over the past few seasons, increasing steadily from 40.0% in 2009 to 49.2% in 2012. With the Tigers' lack of defensive range in the infield, this could skew Greinke's numbers even further from his ridiculous FIP totals from the past few seasons. Worst case scenario, Greinke turns into a rich man's Rick Porcello with a better strikeout rate. OK, maybe that's not the worst scenario possible, but it's definitely not worth $15+ million per season for the next 5-6 years.
Speaking of those contract numbers, I would expect Greinke to easily see some nine figure offers in the next couple days (if he hasn't already). There will be a significant difference between his deal and those signed by any other pitcher on the market, including Sanchez. Is he worth it? Probably not.
Will he end up in Detroit?
I doubt it. The Angels have put all of their eggs into Greinke's basket and will do just about anything to keep him in
Los Angeles Anaheim. Will it take nine figures? Owner Arte Moreno has been known to go there. However, after last season's signing of Prince Fielder, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Greinke somehow made his way to Detroit next season.