Rumors emerged earlier this week about the Dodgers possibly interested in a reunion with right-handed ace, Zack Greinke. The Dodgers need for starting pitching help has been well documented all season long having used 14 different starting pitchers this season. So it makes sense why the Dodgers would be interested in bringing Greinke back. But is Greinke the answer for this season? I’m not convinced it’s the right move for the Dodgers.
Greinke is having a down season by his standards, and quite frankly for the Diamondbacks, also. The Diamondbacks signed Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract this offseason and Greinke has not been the missing piece the Dbacks had hoped he’d be as the Dbacks are last in the NL West. This season Greinke owns a 4.17 era with a 12-4 record while only pitching 136 inning. Greinke did miss a little over a month this season with an oblique injury and has struggled since his return. In his five starts since returning from the DL, Greinke has gone 2-1 with a 6.41 era, including a 1.35 HR/9 ratio.
Greinke was due for regression after his solid 3-year campaign with the Dodgers where he posted a 2.33 era with a 51-15 (.770) record in over 600 innings. The Dbacks overpaid for Greinke, giving a 32-year old pitcher a six-year deal that would pay $33 million a year the his career into his late 30’s.
When diving into Greinke’s stats with the Dbacks this season, it looks like Greinke has suffered from home ballpark regression. When Greinke left the Dodgers he also left one of the best pitcher parks in all of baseball. Chase Field is one of the better hitters park in the league and the change in scenery has shown in Greinke’s home/away splits. This season Greinke has a 5.13 era at home including a 1.22 HR/9 ratio. You compare those numbers to the home splits Greinke had with the Dodgers, Greinke’s era was 2.04 and .79 HR/9 ratio. There’s no doubt Greinke misses Dodgers Stadium.
What all of this means is that Greinke is still a top of the rotation pitcher. Don’t let his high era and HR/9 ratio this year fool you. But that doesn’t mean he’s the right fit for the Dodgers. Yes, the Dodgers have a World Series caliber roster and are a few pitching pieces away from being front runners. I, for one, have said the Dodgers need to get a top of the line starting pitcher in order to win a World Series (I supported going all in for Chris Sale). But Greinke leaving the Dodgers this season has been a blessing in disguise.
Greinke is 32-years old and in his 13th season in the majors. That’s a lot of workload for a pitcher that has only been on the DL four times in his career and it’s showing in his offseason preparation. When Greinke left the Dodgers, Greinke had been receiving lubricating injections in his right elbow each offseason with the Dodgers. Greinke has always been blunt to the press about his health and has dealt with elbow soreness every year right around the All-Star break. With those are injury concerns that I’m okay with the Dodgers not committing $30 million a year too.
With Greinke gone, this opened the door for Julio Urias to make his debut. Urias certainly went through some growing pains his first few times on the mound, but since August he’s found his way in the majors. Urias’ August performance shows bright flashes of the Dodgers future. In August, Urias has a 1.99 era with an impressive 8.75 K/9 ratio with a 4-0 record (3 starts). With Greinke in the picture, Urias doesn’t get his shot until next season. Now that Urais has the big league experience, he’s shown flashes to start next season as the Dodgers number 2 starter behind Kershaw.
Another reason is the Dodgers already invested in their number 2 starter. Even though Rich Hill has only pitched one game for the Dodgers, the Dodgers still traded two viable trade assets to acquire him in Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes. Hill had an impressive first start against the Giants before being shut down because of a blister. By the way how bad can a blister really be! As we learned this season pitching depth can really be vital and Greinke can certainly help that, but bringing on Greinke would also block Jose De Leon from pitching next season (given that they don’t trade him in the deal).
The cost would be too high. The new general managers have shown that they are moving away from the “buy a championship” mentality. Friedman has really imposed his will on developing and acquiring our minor leagues, not trading them. It’s paid off with Seager, Urias and now we see it with Tholes. Greinke would still be owed $172.5 million from 2017 – 2021. Even as talented as Greinke is, the Dodgers won’t be included to pay that type of money for any pitcher not named Kershaw, let alone a contract that expires when he’s 38. This isn’t even including the prospects it would cost to fish Greinke away from the Dbacks.
I wasn’t on board with the Dodgers giving away two top prospects for a rental pitcher in Hill and I won’t be on board with them giving away more prospects for a pitcher that we would be on the hook for until his late 30s. Sure, the move would bring a solid 1-2-3 punch when our staff is healthy as we turn our calendar to October. It’s just a move that wouldn’t be worth price with all the young talent our team has.