The Arizona Diamondbacks are firmly in playoff contention, but the notion of trading Zack Greinke is an indicator they’ll be a trade deadline seller.
After an offseason move toward rebuild mode, the Arizona Diamondbacks certainly had low expectations for 2019. But here there are above .500 (50-48) entering Saturday’s action, one game back of the second NL Wild Card spot.
Arizona’s only chance at the playoffs is one of the Wild Card spots, with the Dodgers leading the NL West by 14 games going into Saturday. General manager Mike Hazen’s trade deadline plan could vary on a player-to-player basis, but the idea of trading one pitcher in particular seems to give away the broader priority.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Diamondbacks may be willing to eat some money to move Zack Greinke.
Greinke is due $80 million from now through the end of the 2021 season, with $32 million salaries in 2020 and 2021 and a $2 million trade kicker if he is moved. He is still a very good pitcher at 35 years old, with a 2.95 ERA, 114 strikeouts (8.0 K/9) and 16 walks (1.1 BB/9) over 128 innings (20 starts) so far this season. He’s scheduled to start against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.
That cost, which should be somewhere around $55-$60 million over the next two-plus seasons, is pretty prohibitive for any team with even a passing interest in the right-hander. As Heyman cites, Greinke also has a 15-team no trade list and there’s a belief he prefers to stay in Arizona.
If the money he’s owed doesn’t eliminate contending teams who have any level of interest in Greinke, the no-trade clause that allows him to dictate where goes surely eliminates a fair chunk of those who might remain.
But from a broader perspective, the Diamondbacks being any level of willing to absorb the money Greinke is owed takes the mystery out of their trade deadline path. In terms of name-brand (and/or expensive) veterans, it’s clearly sell, sell, sell.