I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to this bit of genius from my Twitter feed almost exactly one month ago:
Prediction for the 2016 Giants rotation: Bumgarner, Cain, Peavy, Leake, and Cliff Lee.
— Paul Rice (@PaulieRice) November 4, 2015
Exactly 24 hours from now that prediction might go up in an inferno. The Giants are apparently extremely close to signing free agent star pitcher Zack Greinke. Some of the latest reports have it that Greinke has basically boiled it down to the Giants and Dodgers, and it’s just a matter of him making up his mind whether he wants to stay put or uproot to Norther California.
I’d first like to state that I firmly support the Giants signing Greinke. Primarily because of this story, but also because he just led the world in ERA and posted an ERA+ over 200 for the second time in his career. In fact, only thirteen pitchers in history have posted a better ERA+ in a single season than Greinke’s 225 this past season. He also finished in the top ten in the National League in pretty much every category that anyone should care about. I’ve avoided singing his praises for three seasons, but now that he might finally be free of the Dodger Blue shackles, it’s fair game.
I generally hate the idea of giving out large, multi-year deals to pitchers, for myriad reasons that I’ve ranted about incessantly over the years. However, if there’s one pitcher to give a gargantuan free agent contract to…well, it’s probably Clayton Kershaw. But the next guy is probably Greinke. With his high pitching IQ (described in some circles as Madduxian) and his filthy changeup, it seems, intuitively, that he’d age better than your typical 30-something pitcher who has gotten by on pure stuff for most of his career.
There’s even some talk that Greinke might accept a five-year deal for a higher average annual value than the contract David Price just signed with Boston. If that’s true, the Giants should have no reservations whatsoever about doling out cash to Greinke. As we all know, it isn’t the dollars of a bad player contract that kills teams, it’s the years, and five years is a lot easier to swallow than seven. I mean, we never thought that Barry Zito contract would end, and some mornings I wake up still thinking it hasn’t!
I’m skeptical that Greinke would take less years, because if you’re coming off of one of the best seasons ever, why the hell wouldn’t you insist on two extra years of security? My initial (some might say drunken) prediction of a Cliff Lee signing stems from the Giants’ general conservative approach (ever since Zito) to signing free agent pitchers. With some money coming off the books, though, GM Bobby Evans might be more willing than his predecessor, Brian Sabean, to make a big-dollar free agent splash and get into an arms race with the hated Dodgers.
A one-two punch of Greinke and Madison Bumgarner would probably make the Giants favorites in the NL West again. Heck, maybe the Giants would forgo re-signing Leake, make my C-Lee prediction come true by signing the aging ex-Phillie to a cheap, Randy Johnson 2009-esque deal, with Lee coming back and pitching like the Lee of old and then the Giants would have three Cy Young-caliber starters. Now wouldn’t that be something?