Sunday, July 5, 2015

With each start, Greinke gets more expensive. And that's fine with me.

If you're Zack Greinke, you're sure loving life right now.

Coming off another masterful performance, seven shutout innings in a 4-3 win over the Mets on Independence Day, Greinke now has a 1.48 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 17 starts, to go along with a scoreless innings streak at 27 2/3.

Life is good.

What's even better is that after this season, he has an out clause in contract that would allow him to test the free agency market.  Before the 2013 season, he inked a six-year, $147 million deal.  He's earning a cool $23 million this season, along with a $2 million signing bonus.

Those are some huge numbers, but in today's baseball world, he can probably get even more dough if he keeps putting up blanks like this.  Take Max Scherzer, for example.  He turned down the Tigers' offer of a $144 million extension, rolling the dice that he could get north of $200 million.  After posting monster numbers last season, he was right, as he signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nationals.

What works even more in Greinke's favor is Scherzer's success this year.  Rather than getting the money and seeing his numbers slip, he's been even more dominant this season at 9-6 with a 1.82 ERA and 0.78 WHIP.  He also has a no-hitter, and is seemingly in contention for one every start.

With Scherzer's success comes the increasing likelihood that Greinke will choose the same path.  It's the old "gamble on me" way of thinking that can be somewhat dangerous.  That is, somewhat dangerous for people who have not allowed one run or less in 13 of his 17 starts.

One thing that is working against Greinke is simple: his age.  He'll be 33 next season, and the magic number of 30 for pitches is when they usually start to go downhill.  But, if you read Buster Olney's article on him (sorry, Insider only), then you'll see that rival evaluators believe he can keep replicating his success because he's in the mold of a Greg Maddux: that is not, not a power pitcher, but a guy who hits corners, changes speed, and has a great arm slot on his release.

As of now, there's no way the Dodgers can't throw the bank at him.  It's not like they can't afford it!  The new analytics-driven front office might not like giving that much money to someone his age, but he's clearly the Dodgers #1 need heading into the offseason.  Yes, he's been that good.

Or, if Greinke truly cares about getting more wins (he's 4-3 right now), then he'll stay with his current contract, or even offer to give some of that money to get better middle relief.  It took all of two innings for clowns like Yimi Garcia, Adam Liberatore, and Pedro Baez to nearly blow a 4-0 lead.  Imagine if the Dodgers could score more runs and protect the lead in the middle innings more often.  Greinke might have 30 wins by now.  Kidding, of course.  Kind of...

Anyway, as Clayton Kershaw is still looking to be more consistent with his location, Greinke has vaulted into the #1 pitcher for the Dodgers as they lead the NL West.  I'm pretty sure that fact isn't lost on Greinke's representatives, who will look to cash in on his terrific numbers this offseason.

Let's just hope he cashes in with the Dodgers.

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