Could Zack Greinke be a fit for the New York Yankees?
Aug 14, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke (21) delivers against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

With the Diamondbacks likely to dump former All-Star Zack Greinke, the New York Yankees have been contemplated as a possible fit. 

In the 2015-16 offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks shocked the world by handing the reigning CY Young runner-up Zack Greinke the second-largest contract ever for a pitcher.

$206.5 million over six seasons was certainly a risk, but for the starter with the lowest ERA (1.66 in ’15) in a single-season with at least 30 starts since 1990, it seemed worth it.



Unfortunately for the D-Backs, things didn’t quite work out in year one of the massive deal that equates to 46.7 percent of its payroll, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

Across 26 starts with Arizona, Greinke went 13-7 with a 4.37 ERA and surrendered 23 home runs in 158.2 innings of work compared to 14 in 222.2 innings the previous year.

Olney also mentions how Arizona’s second-most significant priority, obviously second to the development of young talent, should be to shave the rest of Greinke’s salary ($172.5 million) after this disheartening start.

It’s also mentioned that the New York Yankees, who seem to have very little going for them in terms of pitching, are one of the few organizations in the sport that can sustain the payroll hit.

Before you click out of the article and rage about how the rebuilding Yankees would never do such a thing, take a breather. This is solely some thought-provoking talk and after thinking about it, there’s some argument as to why they could venture into this possibility.

First off, one off year shouldn’t write off Greinke as someone who has left his prime years. Is it possible? Sure, but this is a guy who owns the second-best ERA in the sport since 2013 behind his former teammate, Clayton Kershaw.

Yes, even with his rough campaign a year ago, he still ranks among the best and still showed some signs of dominance, like this performance against the Houston Astros on June 2.

Following that start, Greinke would go on to post a 4-0 record over his next six starts while yielding a 2.39 ERA and an opponent’s slash line of .207/.250/.343.

The home run numbers are still an area of concern, especially when considering he has to come pitch in the sandbox of Yankee Stadium, but looking at the rotation of the future, it’s not as sunny as the Baby Bombers are making it seem.

Masahiro Tanaka can opt out of his seven-year, $155 million contract at the end of 2017 while CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are destined to hit the free agent pool as well.

That means unless Luis Severino pans out as a starter (and trust me, there are glaring signs that scream he’s destined to be a reliever) the Yankees are banking on their farm system to be able to spit out an ace over these next few years.



Chad Green, Luis CessaJames Kaprielian, Chance Adams, Dietrich Enns and Justus Sheffield are promising, but so were Manny Banuelos, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Andrew Brackman.

Basically, prospects are pretty much a crapshoot. You can break them down all you want and forecast whatever you think will happen, but you shouldn’t bet your house on them panning out.

With that said, even if Tanaka stays and one of the highly touted “baby hurlers” pan out, Cashman is going to have to invest in an arm in order to compete by 2019.

Clayton Kershaw could opt out of his deal by the 2018-19 offseason, but he’ll be a 31-year old starter with 2,000 innings (assuming he doesn’t get hurt) under his belt during an offseason in which the Yankees are anticipated to add Bryce Harper and Manny Machado onto their payroll. 

Why risk all that payroll space on Kershaw (who could pull a David Price), when you could take a similar risk with some help obtaining Greinke?

Remember, this is only suitable for New York if the Diamondbacks are going to eat a significant portion of the money and not demand any significant portion of the farm in return.

It’s not worth thinking about now. The Yankees, unless something comes out of left field, are done adding to their roster and are set to report to Tampa in just under two weeks.

However, by next offseason (when Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez or maybe Tanaka, Pineda and others come off the books), this could arise as a genuine possibility — if Mike Hazen is willing to help Cashman out in regards to asking price.

Will Greinke sport Yankee pinstripes one day? Probably not. A ton has to go right and Cashman may be better off taking a risk on the best pitcher on the planet. But with little assurance that the future is bright for the rotation, an option that involves some money help should at least be examined.


 

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