Now that the Greinke saga is over, second tier pitchers should begin to fall like dominoes
On Friday, one of the top pitchers in all of baseball surprised the baseball world as it was announced that he had not signed, as expected, with either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Francisco Giants. The entire week had people speculating NorCal or SoCal, NorCal or SoCal?
Well, think spring training, west coast spring training. Salt River Fields ring a bell? Well, if it doesn’t (it’s the spring training home of the team Greinke signed with) then I’ll just go ahead and tell you. Zack Greinke signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and more power to him! It’s a fantastic choice. He’s helping shift the power in the NL West away from the coast and into the desert.
That signing is the kind of thing that happens when you put Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart back together to run a team and you have to have money but that’s neither here nor there. The last time LaRussa and Stew were together the Oakland Athletics won three straight American League Pennants and swept the San Francisco Giants in the 1989 World Series. It was very smart of the Diamondbacks ownership to bring the pair back together.
With Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit Tigers), David Price (Boston Red Sox) and Zack Greinke now off the free agent market, teams are already starting to go after their second choices. Saturday morning the Giants, who lost out on Greinke, signed free agent pitcher Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90 million deal pending a phy
Cueto, personally, I’m not so sure he is even worth (or going to get) another offer like that. Cueto can be masterful on the mound and has some of the best numbers over the last few seasons behind guys like Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. However, from what I have seen Cueto could be a liability to a team because it seems that he can be quite inconsistent.
John Lackey is more of the lower end of the top tier/highest end of the second tier of free agent pitchers and the main reason for that is because of his age. Lackey is 37 but last season he had the best season of his 13 year career. He pitched a 218.0 innings while posting a career low 2.77 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Are the Chicago Cubs taking a risk giving him a two-year, $33 million? Maybe but Lackey can pitch.
J.A. Happ is another second tier free agent that has already been signed. Some thought the Toronto Blue Jays were crazy for giving the 33-year-old a three year, $36 million deal. Happ hasn’t always been a starter during his nine year career. Since he became a full-time starter in 2010, he’s had an and up and down ERA as low as 3.00 and as high as almost 5.00, which puts him in this second tier of pitchers. In 2015 Happ put up some of the best numbers of his career with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Still he’s never pitched up to 200 innings in a single season, which is concerning but as long as they are not leaning on him to be their number one or two starter (they’re not) then he could be an asset to the Blue Jays. That is assuming that he can replicate his 2015 numbers next season.
So a few of the second tier pitchers have been picked up by teams but what should be expected to happen next (but you never know) especially with Major League Baseball’s winter meetings beginning Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, is that the second tier pitchers are going to fall like dominoes.
Now that a number of years and a dollar amount has been set with the Greinke signing, it in a way sets the market price. There will likely be some number three starters getting decent money (compared to Greinke) and getting three or potentially even four year deals. It should begin to happen fast as clubs who couldn’t have afforded Greinke anyway, scramble to get their already scouted second choices. Pitchers like Mike Leake and Scott Kazmir will have permanent homes for the 2016 season and very likely beyond, probably by the end of the week.