The instant I saw the words "Zack Greinke" and "signs a four-year contract" I thought, "Well, Rany will be happy."
This is the first legitimately great news of this offseason for the Royals, and the second item of great news for Kansas City sports fans in the past week, coming quickly on the heels of the Herm Edwards firing (and that Mike Shanahan is out of the running for the job).
Signing Zack Greinke to a four-year deal--buying out his two remaining arbitration years and extending club control another two years--clearly signifies that the Royals have righted their defeatist ways of old that would have seen Zack Greinke leaving town via a July trade in 2010.
Signing Zack Greinke to a four-year deal sends a message to the fan base that not only is this team going to spend money via free agency but that it will also attempt to retain its young, budding superstars.
Signing Zack Greinke to a four-year deal means we get to watch Zack Greinke pitch for four more years.
Now, there is obviously a chance that this contract saddles the team with an albatross of a contract if Greinke's body breaks down like Mike Sweeney's did. At the time Sweeney signed his five year $55 million, there was no reason to believe that he would spend much of the next five years on the Disabled List. At this point in Greinke's career, the same can be said of him at the time of signing. Sure, he almost walked away from the game in 2006, but he has been stellar for two years, and the time away from the game may have actually done some good for his arm. Oh, and he did just turn 25 this last October. Regardless, as a general manager, you cannot run away from signing your own talent to long deals because you are expecting the worst to happen.
Greinke will be getting $38 million over four years: $3.75 million this year, $7.25 million in 2010, and $13.5 million in 2011 and 2012. This is very comparable to the Scott Kazmir deal inked last summer--assuming the Devil Rays exercise their club option in 2012, Kazmir will be getting $39.5 million over four years. Kazmir is about three months younger, but has a more extensive injury history and has struggled to keep his walk rate down (Kazmir's career BB/9 is a rather pedestrian 4.13 to Greinke's 2.38).
When you think about the insane amounts of money that guys like A.J. Burnett and Ryan "Cum" Dempster (who had his first good year as a starter since, what, 2000?) got this offseason, this contract looks even better.
The $3.75 million this year does not break the bank and screw the budget for this season, and the increase the following year is more than made up for by Ron Mahay's $4 million contract coming off the books after the 2009 season. By the time he hits the $13.5 million mark, the $12 million that Jose Guillen is currently getting will be gone, too, so the money to pay him will have been freed up. This should also coincide with the beginning of the wave of early round talent that Moore has gathered through the draft that are currently occupying spots on the lower levels of the farm system.
Locking up Greinke through 2012 is truly encouraging. It is unfortunate that we had to wait until the end of January for the first bit of great news, but great news it is.
Thank you, Dayton Moore. Thank you, Glass family.