Every player that reaches the majors has a hot-stove tale to tell. They’re drafted or signed into the pro ranks to start out. Quite a few are traded or move via free agency even before reaching the bigs. You have to be selected or signed onto a 40-man roster before you can put on a uniform in a MLB contest. And then there’s the inevitable moment when it all goes away … whether through retirement at the end of a lengthy career or, in many cases, a trip into DFA limbo.
All of these stories are etched on the pages of MLBTR. Some are more interesting than others. A few of these transactional career arcs touch upon many major elements of the hot stove league — the front office game that shapes the underlying sport that we watch on TV.
The transactional saga of Zack Greinke, the venerable right-hander whose latest stop is the Houston Astros, is certainly among the most notable in recent memory …
- The Royals took Greinke, an unusually polished high-school hurler, with the sixth overall pick of 2002 draft.
- Greinke quickly emerged as one of the game’s top prospects.
- Baseball America rated Greinke 54th overall ahead of the 2003 season and 14th overall in advance of 2004.
- At just 20 years of age, Greinke turned in in 24 starts of 3.97 ERA ball in his debut season of 2004. But he struggled badly in his sophomore season.
- Greinke battled mental health issues and was ultimately diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder. At the time, his outlook as a professional baseball player was of secondary concern. SI.com’s John Donovan wrote: “Greinke’s tortured story is, on the one end, a sad one, but on this side there is hope that it may yet turn out well.”
- Greinke reemerged in 2007, then turned in a breakout 2008 season.
- The Royals signed Greinke to a four-year, $38MM extension in advance of the 2009 season, adding two years of team control. He won the American League Cy Young Award in the ensuing campaign.
- The Royals decided to entertain trade offers on Greinke, by then regarded as one of the game’s best pitchers, in the 2010-11 offseason. Greinke later indicated his desire to be traded.
- A monumental set of Winter Meetings trade talks ensued. Royals Review has exhaustively documented the contemporaneous rumor mill. Greinke reportedly indicated he would exercise his no-trade rights to block a deal to the Nationals.
- The Brewers eventually acquired Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt, and $2MM from the Royals for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi.
- Greinke ended his tenure with the Royals with a 3.82 ERA in 1,108 innings over seven seasons.
2012 Trade Deadline Swap
- Greinke continued to perform well in Milwaukee, but the Brewers stumbled.
- In July of 2012, the Angeles acquired Greinke for Jean Segura, Ariel Pena and John Hellweg.
- Greinke ended his tenure with the Brewers with a 3.67 ERA in 294 2/3 innings over two seasons.
2012-13 Free Agency
- Greinke entered the market as the top player available and drew interest from numerous big-market teams.
- During the Winter Meetings, the Dodgers signed Greinke to a six-year, $147MM contract.
- Greinke ended his tenure with the Angels with a 3.53 ERA in 89 1/3 innings over one season.
2015-16 Free Agency
- Greinke opted out of his contract after a 2015 season in which he led the National League with a 1.66 ERA.
- Expectations were that he would re-sign with the Dodgers, but the Diamondbacks suddenly entered the market with a massive offer.
- The Diamondbacks signed Greinke to a six-year, $206.5MM contract, setting a new record for average annual value ($34.42MM).
- Greinke ended his tenure with the Dodgers with a 2.30 ERA in 602 2/3 innings over three seasons.
2019 Trade Deadline Swap
- After a rough initial season in Arizona, Greinke continued to produce excellent results even as he entered his mid-thirties.
- In a last-minute agreement consummated just before the trade deadline, the Astros acquired Greinke for Corbin Martin, J.B. Bukauskas, Seth Beer, and Joshua Rojas.
- Greinke ended his tenure with the Diamondbacks with a 3.40 ERA in 714 2/3 innings over four seasons.
- Greinke’s contract runs through 2021. The Astros took on $53MM of the remaining salary obligations.
- With the Astros, Greinke has a 3.02 ERA in 62 2/3 innings over one season.