COMMENTARY| Zack Greinke is one of the hottest names on the free-agent market. The former Cy Young winner is coming off a solid season, finishing with a 3.48 ERA in 212.1 innings of work. Greinke, at 29, is also one of the youngest free-agent pitchers on the market, along with Edwin Jackson and Anibal Sanchez. Greinke is an efficient worker, so many teams will be interested in him.
Should the Boston Red Sox be one of those teams?
Greinke could fill a hole right away. Even a 75-percent Greinke would be an upgrade for a Boston pitching staff that was one of the worst in all of baseball in 2012. He also could provide major relief for the bullpen. Greinke is an innings machine. Since 2008, he has only thrown fewer than 200 innings once. He is simply a model of durability.
Greinke is also known as a strikeout machine. This would fit in well on any team, not just the Red Sox. He has gone over 180 strikeouts every year since 2009, including 200 last season. Boston hasn't had a pitcher throw that many Ks since 2010. Adding a 200-strikeout pitcher could potentially give the Red Sox two strikeout pitchers, since Jon Lester (assuming he's not traded) has the ability. Lester has thrown over 200 strikeouts in a season, and with Jon Farrell back in Boston there is optimism he will improve. If Boston has two fireballers of that caliber, one would think the Sox's staff would get instant respect.
The best aspect of Greinke probably comes down to his efficiency. His career WHIP is an outstanding 1.247. It's even better since he became a full-time starter, which brings it down to 1.198. In his short time with the Angels last season, Greinke posted some of the most effective numbers of his career. With his team facing a playoff race, Greinke rolled to a 6-2 record with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.187 WHIP. Five of the wins came against teams with .500-plus records. His efficient pitching helped keep the Angels in the hunt.
However, there are some downsides, starting with the asking price. Some reports have Greinke possibly making around $25 million per year. That would make a deal in the ballpark of $150-$175 million, depending on the years. That's a serious financial commitment for a Boston team that is trying to be more prudent with spending.
The Red Sox typically spend money on players, like John Lackey and Carl Crawford, who have valuable experience, especially in the postseason. Lackey had a wealth of postseason experience before signing with Boston, while Crawford had two playoff trips, including one World Series. On the other hand, Greinke has made just one inauspicious visit to the postseason. In three games with the Milwaukee Brewers, he had an ERA of 6.48 with a WHIP over 1.600 -- a small sample size, but ugly any way it's broken down. Hard to imagine a frugal team like Boston throwing triple figures at those numbers.
There is also the issue of Greinke's social anxiety disorder. First diagnosed in 2006, he ended up missing most of the season. Greinke eventually got back in to baseball a year later and became the pitcher he is today. However, the Red Sox better be confident that Greinke will be able to handle playing in a tough market like Boston, especially with a $150-million price tag. Greinke has never experienced a locale like Boston. Kansas City and Milwaukee come with very little pressure. Even Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States, doesn't have the media coverage and fan pressure of the Northeast.
There is no doubting Greinke's ability to pitch. His numbers in the regular season speak well for him. But, a lack of quality postseason starts and a concern about his well-being in a pressure-packed market will probably keep the Sox away from the large commitment.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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