In which we pick where the free agents will probably go, and where we want them to go. First up, the Angels' midseason acquisition, Zack Greinke.
This is the first of a series of posts, in which I talk about free agents and the team that wants them. The goal is twofold: First, to identify the favorite for the player's services, and second, to pair the player with the team I think they should go to. Maybe it's the team I'd want them to go to in the most interesting world possible.
The first part is about an educated guess. The second part is about playing matchmaker. I was going to call the series "REVENGE OF THE YENTE," but I was talked out of it.
Up first, Zack Greinke, the best starting pitcher on the free-agent market.
It seems like the incumbent team will always have the advantage with free agents, and that they're the best choice for a safe prediction, but I'm sure if that's true in this case. Last year, MLB Trade Rumors listed the top 50 free agents, and only seven re-signed with their team; MLBTR predicted that 14 would re-sign, which made sense at the time. But it's not exactly a truism that a player is likelier to re-sign.
But I think the Angels are enamored of how their rotation looks with Zack Greinke in it. After a shaky start, Greinke pitched exceptionally well for the Angels, and while no pitcher is ever going to make you feel comfortable signing for five or six years, Greinke's close to the kind of pitcher you would want if you had to give a deal like that out.
The Angels don't have to give a deal like that out. Considering they have C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver locked up, and they can keep Dan Haren around for a couple more years if they want to pay him, they could get by with a couple of lesser free agents and still feel comfortable with their chances to compete in the A.L. West.
After missing the playoffs, though, and with two strong contenders already in the West, the Angels probably aren't comfortable with a chance to compete. They probably want to be the overwhelming favorite, or as close to the favorite as they can reasonably get. Greinke would help toward that goal. And with Ervin Santana getting dealt to Kansas City, it looks like the Angels are clearing a little space and money for Greinke to return.
Every team would like better pitchers, and there isn't a rotation in baseball that wouldn't be improved with Zach Greinke. But there's one team that makes so, so much sense. It's a team that needs pitching in the most obvious way, that could use a public-relations boon, and that could stand to spend a little more money.
Step back. Look at it like it's a painting that initially disgusts you. Rub your chin in quiet contemplation. It makes some measure of sense, right? The Royals have already been active, making the aforementioned trade for Santana and claiming Chris Volstad on waivers. Which, OK. A Volstad/Bruce Chen/Luis Mendoza back of the rotation seems like a great way to waste a young, promising offense. It would be awful if Eric Hosmer got unstuck, Wil Myers was as good as hoped, and the Royals four-hour-gamed their way to 800 runs scored, 810 runs allowed, and another under-.500 season.
The Internet PhDs who specialize in remote psychoanalysis seem to think that Greinke hates crowds, and people, and big cities, and lights and pressure, and attention, and media scrutiny, and taxis, and the ability to get Burmese food at four in the morning. So the narrative is that he'll want to go to a smaller market. I have no idea if that's true. But it's not too forward to suggest that Greinke is a human being, and those things like to feel comfortable. He probably has a good idea of what Kansas City is like, and if he would be likely to enjoy his experience there.
Alas, this probably won't happen. But that's not the point. Zack Greinke on the Royals again would make a lot of sense. Or, even if it doesn't, at least it would entertain me. Let's not forget what's really important here.
Angels, six years, $121 million