The Arizona Diamondbacks are reportedly shopping their top starter and most expensive player in Zack Greinke.
Heading into his age-35 season, the 2009 Cy Young winner and five-time All-Star is owed more than $100 million over the next three years with the Diamondbacks entering what could be a transitional phase. Arizona would love to clear the bulk of Greinke’s salary, which would create more payroll flexibility and potentially free up money to sign star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to an extension.
Finding a team that would want Greinke’s services shouldn’t be especially difficult. Despite his age, the five-time Gold Glove winner has thrown 410 innings over the last two seasons and authored an impressive 3.20 ERA.
But picking a trade partner that can absorb at least a portion of the financial burden and part with a prospect good enough to make it worthwhile for Arizona is a bit trickier. Let’s take a look at five teams that could get it done.
Pros: Low payroll, big market, need pitching
Cons: Heavily right-handed rotation
On paper, the Phillies are the best fit. Ownership wants to spend a “stupid” amount of money and the club has reportedly targeted free-agent left-hander Patrick Corbin.
Instead of attempting to woo Corbin – who will entertain nine-figure offers of his own – the Phillies could just add Greinke. It would make their rotation heavily right-handed, but it would also probably cost less. With Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Aaron Nola at the top of the rotation, Philadelphia would be a strong postseason contender.
Pros: Need pitching, deep farm system
Cons: High payroll, heavily right-handed rotation
The Astros may not seem like a natural fit at first, but the desire to contend – combined with the possibility of losing impending free agents Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton while Lance McCullers Jr. is already out for the 2019 season – could come into play.
As soon as the Seattle Mariners suggested they would listen to trade offers for James Paxton, a report surfaced that Houston was involved. The fact the two teams are division rivals could be an obstacle for any Paxton deal, though, making Greinke a possible consolation prize. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are both entering the final year of their contracts; adding Greinke would give Houston a starter under team control for a few more seasons.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Pros: Financial flexibility, familiarity with Greinke, need for right-hander
Cons: Desire to get under luxury tax, rotation depth, division rival
Greinke signed his first free-agent deal with the Dodgers prior to the 2013 season and provided plenty of value for Los Angeles before opting out of the last three years of a six-year, $147-million contract. He ended up joining the Diamondbacks on a six-year, $206.5-million pact.
Despite a plan to get – and stay – under the luxury tax threshold, the Dodgers have financial prowess beyond almost any other team in the league. But if they are going to flex their financial muscle, it would probably make more sense to go after a relief pitcher, catcher, or outfielder; the club already has a deep rotation thanks in part to Hyun-Jin Ryu accepting his $17.9-miliion qualifying offer.
San Diego Padres
Pros: Deep farm system, need starting pitching, low payroll
Cons: Division rival
The Padres have reportedly shown interest in some pretty big names over the past few months, including a continued pursuit of New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard.
San Diego probably has a deep enough farm system to acquire both Syndergaard and Greinke, and parting with a good enough prospect may get Arizona to eat up to half of Greinke’s remaining salary. Of course, the division rivalry may get in the way of the two clubs actually consummating a deal, but the Diamondbacks would be smart to accept the best move for the franchise regardless of Greinke’s destination.
Los Angeles Angels
Pros: Need starting pitching, wasting Mike Trout’s prime
Cons: High payroll, bad farm system
Mike Trout is under contract for two more seasons and with Shohei Ohtani acting only as a designated hitter in 2019, the Angels are in a bit of a bind. Making the postseason once before Trout is able to test free agency would certainly help the team’s chances of re-signing the superstar center fielder.
Greinke would be a nice addition to the top of the Angels’ rotation and such a move could be mutually beneficial. One reason Greinke left the Dodgers was to be the true ace for another club. In Anaheim, he would be. The Angels are more than one veteran ace from a playoff berth, but it would be a noted step in the right direction for a club starving for starting depth.