Zack Greinke Rangers Rumors: Would He Be the Final Piece to World Series Title?

Ely SussmanCorrespondent INovember 2, 2012

Chris Carlson/AP Photo
Chris Carlson/AP Photo

Rumor has it that the mighty Texas Rangers will court Zack Greinke, the top pitching prize of 2013 MLB free agency:

Greinke pursuit will get *serious* b/w #Angels & #Rangers. TEX sees him as final piece w/ Ogando now a SP; LAA need him to avoid overhaul.

— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) November 1, 2012

Gonzalez is right—Greinke is the "final piece" that would solidify them as a legitimate World Series contender.

The team scored a league-best 808 runs in 2012. Though Texas might lose Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli to free agency, major pieces like Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler will remain. Also, Michael Young is poised for a bounce-back year after posting an uncharacteristically low .299 BABIP.

Hypothetically, if the Rangers part with their aforementioned sluggers, $23.15 million comes off the payroll. Capable replacements like Michael Bourn, Ryan Ludwick and A.J. Pierzynski abound on the free-agent market at lesser prices. They could alternately fill lineup holes via trade considering their surplus of highly-touted prospects.

Either way, that half of the equation is settled. Back to Greinke and the pitching staff.

The right-hander's presence would be invaluable, especially early next season. Neftali Feliz (Tommy John surgery) and Colby Lewis (torn flexor tendon) continue to rehab from their respective elbow injuries.

The Rangers know all too well that their hitter-friendly home environment can be treacherous for even the most reputable MLB starters. Recently, Ryan Dempster and Roy Oswalt fell victim to those conditions.

Greinke, however, induces enough swings-and-misses to limit the damage. Plus, since the start of 2010, far more of the balls put in play against him have stayed on the ground (via His past excellence at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is encouraging (2-3, 2.83 ERA, 1.04 WHIP in 7 G).

Though the 29-year-old appears to be a great fit, it won't matter unless he's comfortable. Greinke has battled social anxiety disorder and depression throughout his career. He missed most of the 2006 season as a result.

There's a consensus that cluttered, hypercritical markets like Boston and New York won't mesh with his personality. Fortunately for the Rangers, Dallas/Fort Worth doesn't quite fit that mold.

At closer, this club has at least another season of Joe Nathan. The All-Star is as dependable in the ninth inning as anybody currently signed with an American League contender.

Envision the scenario where neither Feliz nor Lewis pitch in 2013, and Texas doesn't add pitching beyond Greinke. The team would still enter Opening Day with a boatload of confidence. Few—if any—MLB rotations feature five options comparable to Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and Greinke.

If the Rangers reel in this big fish, they'll have him under contract for many World Series runs to come.