4 Reasons Zack Greinke Could End Up with the Toronto Blue Jays

Bobby KittredgeContributor IIIOctober 23, 2012

4 Reasons Zack Greinke Could End Up with the Toronto Blue Jays

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    With the World Series set to start on Wednesday, most MLB attention is rightfully fixed on the teams getting ready to compete on baseball’s biggest stage. But for fans of the other 28 teams, the offseason is now and “next year” has morphed into “this season.”

    Among 2013’s most intriguing free agents is starting pitcher Zack Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young Award winner who posted solid numbers in 2012 with stints in Milwaukee and Anaheim.

    A bevy of teams in need of starting pitching will surely try to construct offers for Greinke, but at this point he is expected to take at least a couple months to consider his options, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

    That means that until decision time comes, public debate of possible scenarios is left up to the speculation of fans of any team that needs arms. Falling snugly into that category are the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Here are four reasons why the only MLB team north of the border is where Greinke might just end up.

Toronto Is Desperate for Pitching

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    If there’s one thing the Blue Jays need, it’s pitching. If there’s one free agent pitcher to be desired, it’s Greinke.

    Simply based on supply and demand, Toronto absolutely must make a concerted effort to acquire Greinke. The Blue Jays’ abysmal starting rotation is the most obvious hole in the team’s makeup, and once elbow ligaments started popping like bubble wrap in 2012, it became clear that Toronto would need to go out and get help to patch together any sort of solid unit for 2013.

    The offense hasn’t been bad at all, with explosive players like Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista at or near the top of the league in home runs over the past two seasons, respectively.

    The problem is that all the runs in the world won’t save a team whose pitching ranks among the five worst in all of baseball, as Toronto’s did in 2012. Sticking Greinke into the rotation ahead of a hopefully healthy Brandon Morrow would be an enormous step in the right direction.

Toronto Is Away from the National Spotlight

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    Greinke is of a personality type that is not uncommon in baseball but is increasingly difficult to maintain in this age of sports news coverage—he’s quiet and prefers not to have much of a presence in the media.

    The pitcher has also battled anxiety and depression in the past, especially in 2006 when it nearly caused him to walk away from the game. He has obviously rebounded from that and put it in the rearview mirror, and he has even said that it really doesn’t matter to him where he plays, because he’ll simply ignore the media there anyway.

    But it still seems like he’d be a better fit in a more out-of-the-way city than say, Boston or New York or Los Angeles. That is not to say that Toronto is a small market that doesn’t care about its team, but it’s undeniable that the media scrutiny there wouldn't be as intense.

    That said, a part of the reason the Blue Jays spend little time in the spotlight is the fact that they haven’t been a contender in recent years. That will have to change if Toronto is serious about luring Greinke in—the pitcher is a competitor, and he’s probably not interested in wasting any of his remaining years on a team that isn’t trying to win immediately.

Toronto Is Loaded with Prospects—Just Not Pitchers

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    The Blue Jays currently possess seven of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects—more than any other team in the league.

    Most of the talent that is expected to be major league-ready for next season, however, lies in positional players, not pitchers. Again, for the Blue Jays to compete in the perpetually tough AL East, the team must take initiative to go out and get the necessary arms.

    If a few prospects can live up to their hype—notably Anthony Gose in the outfield and Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop—Toronto fans could find themselves with a solid “built-from-within” team reminiscent of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    But if they hope to compete in 2013, they need to bring an ace in from outside. Greinke is the best one available.

Toronto Is Close to Contention—Must Break the Bank

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    If Toronto fails to make the playoffs in 2013, it will mark 20 years since the Blue Jays last played postseason ball—a drought that has extended ever since their back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and ’93. At some point, enough has to be enough for Toronto fans. For many, that point probably came and went a long time ago.

    2013 will mark General Manager Alex Anthopoulos’s fourth full season with the team, and results need to start being seen. The Toronto squad was decimated by injuries in 2012, but when healthy, the offense is one of a contender. Since the rotation clearly is not, the team needs to break the bank on a guy like Greinke.

    The Blue Jays’ payroll was the eighth lowest in the MLB in 2012, more than $120 million below their big spending division rival Yankees. Obviously Toronto isn’t going to spend that kind of money, but they should be willing to jump up $15 million or so to foot a bill on par with the likes of Cincinnati, Minnesota or Milwaukee.

    If Toronto won’t spend that kind of money to bring in talent, especially on the mound, they’re basically admitting to fans that they don’t have any intention of winning right now. Fans can only wait so long for prospects to develop and long-term injuries to heal; signing a guy like Greinke to a big deal would convince a tortured fan base that its team cares about putting a contender on the field not just a couple years down the road, but right now.