Zack Greinke Rumors: Ranking Suitors' Chances of Landing the Ace Pitcher
For more than a year now, we've heard about how attractive an offseason free-agent market this could be for starting pitchers, with aces Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke available.
But Cain has already been locked in by the Giants and Hamels signed with the Phillies before entering the free agent market, leaving Greinke as the top available starting pitcher.
As expected, the list of suitors for Greinke is long, with a number of contending teams among those interested in signing the Angels' ace.
Not all teams are created equal, as financial and comfort issues come into play.
In any case, here are the top suitors for Greinke as it stands right now.
7. Toronto Blue Jays
With issues in the starting rotation last season, the Blue Jays have to know that it will take a strong showing from their starters to contend in the always tough AL East.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports has pointed out that the team hopes to make a big splash in the offseason market, and the potential of bringing in a pitcher like Greinke is there.
Money will be a stumbling block in any contract talks, and Greinke's struggles in those tough AL East stadiums could also be a factor in his decision.
6. Baltimore Orioles
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After coming seemingly out of nowhere and making their way into the postseason, the Baltimore Orioles could no longer be calling the AL East cellar home.
They made moves to help the starting rotation last offseason, but were in a position to do more this summer, as they made strong efforts to trade for Zack Greinke (h/t Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun) prior to his departure for Los Angeles.
Greinke's price as a free agent will be significantly higher than the Orioles would prefer. But given their early interest in him, they can't be counted out as a suitor.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
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After failing to sign to sign Zack Greinke to a long-term extension moved the Brewers to trade him to the Halos, it looked like his time in Milwaukee was in the past.
That may well still be the case. But Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin is still in contact with Greinke, and while it doesn't sound like any meaningful contract discussions have taken place, his old stomping grounds could be worth keeping an eye on.
4. Washington Nationals
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As one of the league's biggest surprises in 2012, the Washington Nationals could be in good shape for years to come with young stars like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg in the fold.
Much of their success last season can be attributed to the additions of pitchers Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez, among others.
Though Gonzalez will be around in 2013, Jackson is entering free agency, meaning the Nationals will likely look for additional pitching help.
Just two years ago, they made a move to acquire Zack Greinke (h/t Washington Post), and though the cost would no doubt be higher this time around, it could be the move that makes all the difference next season.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
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The Los Angeles Dodgers showed a willingness to spend any amount necessary when they committed nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to players brought over from the Boston Red Sox.
They ended up falling short of playoff contention, but are more than ready to open up their checkbooks again this offseason.
Two people who could potentially make a short trip to Dodger Stadium are Zack Greinke and Torii Hunter.
Los Angeles has already spoken to representatives for Greinke (h/t Bob Nightengale, USA Today) and given the way they don't seem to have much of a threshold when it comes to spending, they'll likely match any offer both players receive.
2. Texas Rangers
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After two consecutive appearances in the World Series in 2010 and 2011, the Rangers' season ended with a thud as they were ousted before reaching the ALDS.
They now face some huge decisions, namely whether to offer a lucrative extension to Josh Hamilon.
With the team not working hard to bring back Ryan Dempster next season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes that it's looking more and more like the Rangers will make a play for Zack Greinke, a move that could also signal the end of the Hamilton era in Texas.
1. Los Angeles Angels
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After coming over from the Milwaukee Brewers prior to this year's trade deadline, Zack Greinke struggled somewhat upon his arrival in Los Angeles. He went 6-2, but saw his strikeout averages drop while his walk numbers increased.
There's no reason to think he wouldn't be back to his old ways next season, and the Angels will no doubt make signing him a priority this offseason.
Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times has noted that while his cost may be the highest in this offseason market, losing Greinke would create a hole in the Angels' rotation, something that they can ill afford in the competitive AL West.
They showed a willingness to spend money this past offseason, and with one more strong push for Greinke this winter, the Halos have to like their chances entering 2013.