Priority Number 1: Zack Greinke

Posted by Steve

By this time, you are able to tell for the most part which teams are entering the season as contenders and which ones are in rebuilding mode. The place you don’t want to be, generally, is somewhere in between (Hello Milwaukee Bucks ever since Ray Allen was traded. Wrong sport, but still).

The Brewers, clearly, are a contender this year, especially if Ryan Braun manages to get a full season.

(Allow me a brief sidebar to quickly discuss the Braun saga. I didn’t make this its own post, because there really isn’t anything new to say. My main thought is what I’m sure everyone else has right now: What the hell is taking so long? First we hear that there’s some 25-day time frame in which the arbitrator, Shyam Das (Is that a Batman villain?), has to deliver a verdict. Now yesterday TH reported that he isn’t “technically” bound by that time frame. Again, why the hell is this taking so long? This is a failed test that occurred five months ago! What on Earth could be the reason for this delay?)

Next year may not be so clear. 60% of their starting rotation is set to hit free agency. A full rebuild isn’t likely, with Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Yovani Gallardo, and now Aramis Ramirez (ugh) signed for multiple seasons. But if they lose Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum from their rotation, it’s going to be awfully difficult to field a good team.

The Brewers need to make extending Greinke their first priority. Of course, even if they do–and I get the impression they pretty much have–that doesn’t mean a deal gets done. Playing for a winning team seems important to Greinke; it’s why he wanted out of Kansas City, and it could be why he hasn’t signed an extension yet. We’ve already had the obligatory “Zack likes it here” story. It seems like he’d be open to staying in Milwaukee, but who knows.

My guess is he’s going to see how the first half of the season plays out. If the Brewers struggle badly enough that they’re selling off K-Rod, Randy Wolf, Shaun Marcum, or anyone else, I’m sure you can kiss an extension goodbye. If things are going well, though, and they’re over .500 and contending for the division by All-Star Break/trade deadline, it wouldn’t surprise me to see an extension around this time.

A good comparison could be the extension given to Jared Weaver midway through last season. Weaver was set to hit free agency after this year just like Greinke (and Matt Cain and Cole Hamels, for what it’s worth). Instead, he signed a 5 year/$85 million deal, which was widely considered good value for the Angels. I’d be thrilled if the Brewers signed Greinke to that deal. Since he’s now closer to free agency than Weaver was, I doubt they could get him that cheap, but I’d gladly take a 5 year/$90 million deal. And since winning seems to be so important, maybe Greinke only would want to sign a two or three year extension so he can leave if the team doesn’t stay competitive. That type of contract is doubtful, but who knows.

For selfish reasons, I’d love to see him stay. Obviously, I enjoy watching him pitch, but I also love his quotes. He doesn’t use stupid cliches, and he’s usually brutally honest. Take this quote from an article about how the Brewers would move on after Prince Fielder’s departure:

“Last year there were 5-7 offenses in the National League that were better than ours. Our pitching staff is what kind of carried us. It was the bigger part of our year.”

Translation: It’s not like our offense was outstanding last year with Prince. We won 96 games mostly because our pitching was very good.

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