The Astros are already looking at exceeding the luxury tax threshold in 2020. Would it be wise to trade Zack Greinke in order to afford to keep Gerrit Cole?
I can’t see the Astros having any possibility of re-signing Gerrit Cole without shedding a large part of their expected payroll for 2020. The easiest way I see to do that is to trade a player or two to make the room. One of the largest salaries the Astros have on the books for next season is going to the newly acquired Zack Greinke. If I had to choose, I’d definitely take Cole over Greinke.
Cole is obviously a hot commodity this offseason, if not the most sought after free agent on the market. So there is no doubt he and his agent, Scott Boras, will be seeking a big-time contract. The estimate floating around is $33-$35 million a year for a long-term contract. That’s a big chunk of a team’s payroll.
Greinke’s current contract is $32 million a year through 2021. Although, the Astros are only responsible for $24.7 million of that due to the fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks are eating $10.3 million of his salary for 2020 and 2021 as part of the trade deal. But that nearly $25 million is the third-highest on the team and would go a long way in helping out the cause.
Now I’m not saying Greinke isn’t an extremely talented pitcher to have in anyone’s rotation, he’s by all means, one of the best in the game. But he’s no Gerrit Cole, sorry. Cole was the runner-up to Justin Verlander for the CY Young Award for a reason. Let’s just take a quick look at their 2019 stats and compare them.
Gerrit Cole: Record 20-5, ERA 2.50, SO 326, WHIP 0.895, WAR 7.4, ERA+ 185
Zack Greinke: Record 18-5, ERA 2.93, SO 187, WHIP 0.982, WAR 5.4, ERA+ 154
Both stat lines are very impressive, but Cole’s just stands out as the superior of the two. Then you have to take into consideration their age, Greinke comes in at seven years the elder over Cole with Greinke 36 and Cole 29.
It just seems to make sense to me for the front office to do what they can to keep Cole and dangle Greinke out there in the trade market and see who bites. The Astros might still need to pare a little more of the payroll to make it work, but it sure looks doable. Wouldn’t you much rather see the familiar deadly one-two punch of Verlander and Cole back out on the mound next season?