The Philadelphia Phillies are in the market for pitching, and Zack Greinke is now on their radar despite the cost attached.
The Philadelphia Phillies have faded since leading the NL East less than two months ago. But they are just a half-game back of the second Wild Card, and they’ve added another pitcher to a long list of rumored targets to fortify that situation. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, the Phillies have been “scouting and keeping close tabs on” Zack Greinke as well as his Arizona Diamondbacks rotation-mate Robbie Ray.
The Phillies have been tied to Ray going back to last week, so their interest in him isn’t big news. But Greinke’s addition to their list of targets is interesting. He’s still an excellent pitcher, with a 2.93 ERA over 135 innings (21 starts) with 123 strikeouts (8.2 K/9) and 17 walks (1.1 BB/9) so far this season. It’s the cost the 35-year-old right-hander carries that feels prohibitive.
Greinke is owed the remainder of his $31.5 million salary for this year, then he’s due $35 million in both 2020 and 2021. He is not showing signs of decline as he plays out a big contract, but there is a chance that drop-off happens suddenly over the next couple years. He also has a 15-team no-trade clause, so he has a high level of control over where he goes, if anywhere, when it comes down to it.
The Diamondbacks are firmly in the Wild Card race themselves, 2.5 games back entering Monday. But they may be looking to trade certain pieces. A report from a few days ago suggested they are willing to eat some of the money Greinke is owed to facilitate moving him.
Aaron Nola has been very good since a poor start to the season, but the Phillies’ 4.57 starting rotation ERA is 11th in the National League with an NL-worst 5.05 FIP as a group. Jake Arrieta is trying to pitch with a bone spur in his elbow, and he hasn’t been especially good anyway (4.40 ERA; 1.45 WHIP; 6.9 K/9).
The Phillies seem to be leaving virtually no stone unturned in a search for starting pitching. The addition of Greinke to their radar is a sign they’re seriously dipping their toes in the deep end of the market, and the salary he’s owed seems to not be a differentiating factor.