Home > Uncategorized > Big Bang, Baby: Thoughts About The Arizona Diamondbacks Signing Zack Greinke

Big Bang, Baby: Thoughts About The Arizona Diamondbacks Signing Zack Greinke

A friend texted me on Friday night. core

“My condolences on your boy.”

I thought he was talking about Scott Weiland, the former frontman of Stone Temple Pilots, one of my favorite bands from my childhood; I remember buying their debut album when I was 8 years old. Weiland’s voice and tone were unmistakable and fantastic. It is kind of surprising that he even made it to 48 years of age, but I was still left feeling stunned when I heard the news of his death on Thursday. STP had a bunch of hits, yet combing back through their song catalog that night, even I had forgotten just how many great songs that band churned out. STP, from 1992-96, were something really special.

Alas, my friend’s message was actually in regards to someone whom I readily do call “my boy”: Zack Greinke. As I’ve said many times on this blog, he is my favorite player, seven years running now. Having him pitching just 40 minutes up the road in Dodger Stadium for the past three seasons has been Wonderful. It is a little saddening that’s no longer the case, but at least I and the rest of Los Angles will get to see Greinke on TV much more often

More importantly, signing Zack, if nothing else, should help the Diamondbacks Creep up in the NL West and make that division more competitive. According to Katie Sharp, Greinke compiled a 5.9 FanGraphs WAR last season. That number matches the total WAR of the D-Backs’ entire starting rotation in 2015. 

That’s not to say Arizona is bereft of pitching. Robbie Ray looks like a worthwhile starter. Archie Bradley still has loads of upside, and Patrick Corbin showed flashes this past summer of the guy who was an All-Star in 2013 before Tommy John surgery shelved him for all of 2014. There are pieces to work with there, but Greinke fills the Big Empty space that Arizona had for a proven ace to head the group. With the offense being provided by, notably, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, this team has a solid Core with which to compete in a division that saw only the now-weakened Dodgers finish with more than 85 wins.

Chase Field doesn’t offer the friendly, vast confines of Dodger Stadium, but over the past three years while with L.A., Greinke allowed a total of three earned runs through 41.1 innings while in Arizona.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 41:7.

For the 2015 season, Greinke led all pitchers in b-WAR (9.8). His final marks in ERA, ERA+ and WHIP all ranked among the top six by a starting pitcher in the expansion era. Since 1961, the only starters to record a better ERA+ than Greinke’s most recent 225: Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux (twice), Bob Gibson in 1968 and Doc Gooden in 1985.

Is that worth $206 million over six years (which is really 11 years when you include the period during which the contract’s deferred money will be doled out)? That’s quite a Pretty Penny, and handing any starting pitcher such a lucrative, long-term pact Still Remains risky given the inherent volatility of the position. But it’s not like there are a lot of red flags in Greinke’s profile.

Excluding the one season during which he had an on-field run-in with a maniacal Carlos Quentin, Greinke has made at least 28 starts in each season since the start of 2008. Through the past three years, he’s registered a 4.3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That he doesn’t rely on pure velocity makes it more likely that he’ll age better during the latter stages of this contract — and also makes me question why the Dodgers, who were reportedly OK with living with Greinke through his age-36 season, turned away from him when he wanted to be paid one extra year. There is no doubt in my mind that Greinke would have re-signed if the Dodgers’ brass had agreed to a six-year deal, because this really was all about the cash for Zack, and the Dodgers have MLB’s deepest pockets. 

Even if this Plush arrangement does take a turn for the worse by 2020, I like this move by Arizona. For at least a few seasons, the Diamondbacks will be able to send one of the sport’s best pitchers Between The Lines every fifth day and give him the support of a young, dangerous offense that scored the second-most runs in the NL last year. If Corbin can rediscover his 2013 form and if one or two young arms meet their expectations, the Diamondbacks are going to be a fun watch and a tough beat. However, with him no longer in Los Angeles, I’m left to express my adoration for Greinke in an Interstate Love Song.

You did a lot of great things while you were here, sir. You will definitely be missed. Greinke too.

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  1. December 7, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Grinch did a lot of things right. Like play our two organizations against each other in a bidding war they never really stood a chance at winning, while landing his massive contract from a third party. Good blog, man. I just wrote on the same topic, a bit of a different take though.

  2. December 8, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Los Angeles will definitely miss Grienke, but I hate long term contracts as they are almost ALWAYS regretted by the team in question.

    • December 8, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      You are certainly not wrong. But as I said, I think the majority of this contract has a chance to pay off for Arizona due to Greinke’s durability, relatively soft repertoire and high-level consistency. Come 2021, will the D-Backs and their fans be crying over the fact that they have to pay a 37-year-old Greinke $31 million (and even more money through 2026)? Probably. From 2016-2018, at least, this should look like a sound move. Thanks for reading!

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