I read somewhere that Zack Greinke won’t be worth the money that will be thrown at him this free agent season. The reasons given were: he’s not an ‘ace’ (he’s been living off his terrific ’09 season); and Anibal Sanchez is every bit as good as Greinke, but no one is calling him an ace. Greinke’s efforts since 2010 were even referred to as ‘pretty pedestrian’. These are the two best free agent pitchers available and the Blue Jays need pitching, so let’s take a look.
My first reaction to the comment was ‘what the…’, so I grabbed my shovel. Since 2010 Greinke ranks top 15 in all MLB in WAR, FIP, and SIERA and K/9, but pretty low in some other significant criteria (IP, ERA, RE24, ERA-, etc.). It was a good catch on their part, but calling his efforts ‘pedestrian’ isn’t accurate. Also Greinke pretty much runs the table when put up against Anibal Sanchez. The results suggest that Greinke’s a 1b and Sanchez is a 2a: neither is an ‘ace’ in the classic definition.
There are two key contract-related issues. The first is the number of teams looking for quality pitching. The second is the lack of quality pitchers on the FA market. Supply/demand suggests that previous contracts for better pitchers will play less of a role and that teams need to be prepared to overpay for pitching. Greinke will set the standard this offseason. He might even set a brand new standard. I believe pretty strongly that Greinke and Sanchez will be overpaid, relative to absolute pitcher values and their own specific value.
So where does that leave us? I don’t think that the Blue Jays will be serious suitors in the Greinke Stakes, but I’ve kept my eye on Anibal Sanchez. I’m on record (Filling Gaps) as to what the Jays need and how other teams, like the Giants and Phillies, can help interpret these needs. As a 2a, Anibal Sanchez would be an excellent addition to the Jays’ staff.
I’m pretty sure that the Jays aren’t one pitcher away from being at the Giants’ level but the acquisition of Sanchez makes a significant difference. It’s the difference between Morrow-Sanchez-Romero-Happ-Alvarez and Romero-Morrow-Hutchison-Drabek-Alvarez. The latter rotation had the Jays slightly above .500 before injuries.