Red Sox free agent focus: Zack Greinke


The last game of the 2015 season for 32-year-old right-hander Zack Greinke was a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets in the NLDS. Greinke has been rather non ace like in post season play with a pedestrian 3-3 record and a 3.55 ERA in nine starts. That, however, far exceeds David Price (2-7, 5.12), but falls considerably short of Curt Schilling (11-2, 2.23).

Greinke has never posted 20 wins in a season as have Price and Schilling nor has Greinke ever led the American League or National League in wins as Schilling and Price have done. What Greinke has accomplished in 2015 is one of the premier pitching performances of recent baseball history. Even Pedro Martinez would have to tip his cap. What Greinke represents is the top performer in the pitching free agent circus.

BSI’s Sean Penney wrote an article that pinpoints the risks involved with any signing of Greinke – risks I readily acknowledge, but should not exclude Boston from examining the Greinke option.

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This past season is not an unusual occurrence as Greinke is truly an established ace with a Cy Young Award in his pitching pocket and another one possibly waiting space in the Greinke trophy case. What Greinke has managed to do as an employee of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the last three years were to post an astounding 51-15 record and a 2.30 ERA. Greinke is an élite pitcher and quite possibly the best in the game. Now he is available to the highest bidder – providing it is a money issue.

Greinke signed a six-year deal with the Dodgers for 147M, but embedded in the contract was an escape clause – and that clause represents a one way street in which the player has all fiscal cards in his and his agent’s hand. The poison pill for the Dodgers was the opt-out clause that allowed Greinke to say sayonara to the Dodgers after three seasons and peddle his prestigious goods elsewhere.

The clause operates only one way – for the player. If physical or performance tragedy strikes the player simply ignores the opt-out and continues to allow money to be shoveled into his growing bank account. Having a season like 2015 (19-3, 1.66) and the open market beckons, despite having about 71 million sitting on the table.

Is it all about the money? Greinke is on record as saying he chose Dodger Blue over the Texas Rangers based on dollars, so now the prospect of more dollars await be it in LA or elsewhere – such as Boston. What is known is that it will have to be substantially more in both green and in years. How much is the question that will be answered as soon as the various bids roll in.

The Red Sox have an aversion to tossing out contracts to pitchers who have somehow passed into the senior home of baseball and have waved farewell to their youthful 20s. But exceptions certainly do surface as with Schilling and John Lackey. So what they say and what they do is actually open to the interpretation du jour.

To sign Greinke, you would need money similar to what was tossed down the toilet for Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez combined. The nice neighborhood of about 150 Million spread over five years. The big “if” becomes Grenike’s motivation. If it is a desire to simply relocate to another environment, then the Dodgers are cooked. If it is all about the money, then the Dodgers can just about match anyone.

With Boston comes a certain harrowing disadvantage for a new and well minted player – our fan base is about as tame as a rabid raccoon and disappointment is easily expressed via electronic media, print media and an ever vocal fans who have an emotional and fiscal investment.

The potential medical issue cannot and should not be ignored. Greinke has a history of anxiety disorder and Boston can be a cruel and unforgiving place – just ask Jim Eisenreich, who has Touette’s Syndrome, about his “wonderful” experience in Boston. Greinke appears comfortable in LA so why take a chance? Is he now able to simply compartmentalized and follow a treatment plan? I know of a close family member who has overcome such issues with much success, but they don’t have to face off against 35,000 who want your pelt on a disappointing performance.

Greinke is a rare opportunity to make a bid on acquiring a pitcher that is exceptionally talented. The best interests of the team are to look into all aspects of just what it would take to bring him to Boston. Dave Dombrowski has been quite public about getting an ace and that means either a significant trade or a signing of a free agent of merit. For my money Greinke is the best FA pitcher available. Make him an offer he can’t refuse.

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