The 2021 season has begun, and with every hot start, a starting pitcher is standing ahead of the group. For the Houston Astros, it is obvious that Zack Greinke is the ace on staff by the numbers thus far. It’s not like the right-hander has reached the Fountain of Youth but has been dominant in the way he knows best.
Through two starts this season, Greinke has fanned eight and allowed two runs in 13 innings of work (1.38 ERA). The most interesting player in baseball lives and dies by contact outs, and for a player who used to play shortstop, Greinke fights for a Gold Glove each season. In the midst of an expiring contract, there is a lot of value in bringing back the veteran arm on a short deal, if possible.
Here is the case for the Astros to re-sign Zack Greinke on a short-term deal.
While the velocity and command has depleted over the seasons, Greinke has spoken about how throwing harder tires him out, but speed isn’t what makes the right-hander effective. The combination of throwing in and outs of different velocities with his fastballs and his off speed has been the reason why Greinke is still getting outs like clockwork.
The issues with money for next winter won’t be as tight as it was this past offseason. With the big contracts of Justin Verlander and Greinke off the books, the Astros could evaluate the field and bring in big names to replace current stars. While Carlos Correa’s future makes the most sense to worry about, the Astros have close to $90 million in spending for next offseason, if they want to border the luxury tax threshold once again.
The front office has been known not to spend big and long-term, while these types of contracts can come with risk. That shouldn’t be an issue for Greinke, because at 37-years-old, his blockbuster deals are in the past. Although having a dominant start, the one-time Cy Young will soon even off, but a possible in season extension or re-signing next offseason could benefit the Astros.
With a staff of young arms coming around, Greinke would be a perfect fit to be a returning veteran to the rotation. Even if he is not the Opening Day starter or ace on staff, veteran depth is still valuable in the end. Greinke currently has a deferred contract until 2028 that will make him $12.5 million a year until then. This might not matter in the end, when negotiating a deal, since the money is guaranteed.
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In the end, Greinke won’t be making this money again, and if the Astros look to be contenders in 2022, then a one-year deal is something worth evaluating in the $10+ million range. It is hard to evaluate how much Greinke would make, but if he keeps up this hot start, then the right-hander could make a good amount on a multi-year deal.
For the first time since 2015, Greinke will have the chance to choose where he will play next season. After being shipped to the Astros from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2019, the right-hander lost his opportunity to hit consistently, which he loved. If Houston doesn’t look to bring him back, a National League return makes the most sense. As he looks to hit one more home run and steal one more base in his career, the right-hander would be at 10 in both categories.