Tag Archives: Matt Cain

Greinke saga takes a new turn

Posted by Steve

Things were starting to seem like they were going in the right direction. Zack Greinke said he wouldn’t need an agent unless he “had a reason to get one.” Why would he have a reason to get one unless talks with the Brewers were progressing? When he hired Casey Close, speculation among baseball media members was that they were on their way to working out an extension. After not hearing anything for a week or so, yesterday evening news broke that the Brewers and Close have “suspended” talks.

“I talked with Casey Close and we decided to let it rest for now,” said Melvin. “That doesn’t mean we won’t talk again at some point but we’re going to let it rest right now.”

Hmm. So much left open for interpretation. “We” decided to let it rest? Who? You and your staff? You and Close? And just as important, why is it “resting” all of a sudden?

With the caveat that this is just conjecture on my part, here’s what I see as most likely:

-Greinke and the Brewers were talking throughout spring. Talks were going relatively well to the point that Greinke found it necessary to start interviewing agents.

-Around the time he settled in on Close, Matt Cain signed his massive deal–a record for a right-handed pitcher. It was about $15 million more than I think anyone expected.

-Shortly after that, other crazy deals started flying around. Obviously there were Votto and Cain’s, but in recent days, we’ve seen Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, John Niese, Carlos Santana, and even smaller ones like Alcides Escobar and Jonathan Lucroy.

-At this point Greinke (or most likely Close) started looking around and seeing the crazy money that teams are throwing around. They can point to the Reds and say, “If those clowns are going to commit $300 million to Votto and Phillips until their late 30s, why shouldn’t I hold out for more?” And you know what? They’re exactly right.

There are reports that teams are spending all this money because there will be a new national television contract for MLB after next season, and it will likely result in a lot more revenue for all teams. It makes sense, because how on Earth else can the Reds spend this money? Their attendance is consistently not good, even when they won the division a couple years ago.

(Aside: New television contract or not, what the hell are the Reds doing? Do they have a plan?  $72.5 million for Brandon Phillips is insane. Just crazy. How much of a bargain does the 4-year, $38 million dollar deal that Weeks signed look like right now? Plus, Phillips is 31 in just a couple months, so he’s older than Weeks. Do the Reds realize that these two players have been a core to a team that’s just about .500 the last three seasons? In other words, they’ll have to add pieces in the future to be a true contender. How do they plan on being able to do that with all that money committed to these two players? It’s good for them short term, as in the next three or four years, but after that? Think about how bad the contracts to Todd Helton and Alfonso Soriano look like right now. In six years, the Reds will have the equivalent of both of those players on one team.)

So, back to Greinke. I’m guessing all these recent contracts resulted in the Brewers and Close being way too far apart at the moment. Breaking off–sorry, suspending talks–seems to be a negotiating ploy, but whose ploy is it?

I actually think it’s more likely that it’s the Brewers. Put it this way. What would Greinke get on the open market? In this climate, I’d say at least $150 million. So if Close is asking for, say, $120-130 million, it’s still a discount by definition. But of course, the Brewers can’t pay that.

Greinke has been saying he likes it in Milwaukee. It’s possible that Melvin is saying, “Alright Zack, we’ll see just how much you like it here.” It would be an understandable move. The Brewers simply can’t afford a $120+ million contract. If Greinke really does want to stay here, it’s likely they’ll lower demands a bit. If he likes it here the way Prince Fielder liked it here (he liked it but not so much that he’d take a discount to stay, which is totally understandable), then he’s probably gone.

This certainly isn’t a good sign, but I’m not losing hope. Before this, and especially before the Cain contract, I felt it was a better than 50% chance Greinke would sign. Now, it’s probably less than 50%, but I wouldn’t say it’s a lot less.

Again, this is pretty much just all my own speculation, so don’t think I’m claiming it’s anything more. But the writing’s on the wall, and this is what it spells out to me.

Extensions Abound

Posted by Steve

Two monster extensions were signed today in the National League. Joey Votto signed for a reported $200 million, and Matt Cain signed for $112 million. Both are pretty alarming.

First let’s look at Votto. This one is is crazy, because $200 million for a player who is not a free agent is basically unheard of. Unless I’m forgetting someone, the only player who has signed a bigger extension in baseball history is Alex Rodriguez. On one hand, when you compare it to the two $200 million contracts signed this off-season, I’d take Votto and his contract. Votto is better right now than Prince Fielder, and probably better than Albert Pujols as well–if not, certainly his age makes him more valuable.

On the other hand, the fact that Votto is not a free agent makes this huge. Teams are supposed to get discounts by giving a contract ahead of time, but it certainly isn’t much of one. Votto likely would have gotten around what Fielder did if he was a free agent this past year. Secondly, the fact that Votto plays the easiest position on the diamond makes it tough to justify. Finally, I wasn’t aware the Reds could afford a $200 million player. They have a lot of talented players around Votto, and you have to imagine it will be tough to keep many of them now. Certainly, Brandon Phillips will be gone now (not that that’s a massive loss, but still).

Bottom line: Very good deal for Votto, not as sure for the Reds. And of course, not a great deal for the Brewers to have the best hitter in the division (at least other than Braun) stay in the NL Central for life.

Even though the Votto extension is within the Brewers’ division, the Cain extension probably affects them more. It’s because along with Cole Hamels, Cain was the biggest barometer for a Zack Greinke extension. In case you missed it, I discussed the Greinke situation at length at Reviewing the Brew fairly recently. I’ve been over why I thought guesses of $80 or $85 million for Greinke were low, and I hoped he’d sign for $100 million or so. I’ve also been over the fact that Greinke has been a better pitcher than Cain. That all adds up to the fact that this contract is not the best of news from a Brewers’ perspective.

It sure seems like Greinke is  open to staying in Milwaukee, and there were reports yesterday that he is close to hiring an agent (which likely means talks are progressing), but he also isn’t stupid. This will of course have an effect on what Greinke asks for. Any hopes of keeping him for less than $100 million are toast.

They’ll probably have to match Cain’s contract, or at least come close. That makes the decision a lot tougher, as that is about as high as the Brewers should go on any pitcher, but I would still probably do it. Either way, the Brewers front office can’t be thrilled at all about this contract.

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.