The representatives for free agent right-hander Zack Greinke are telling teams that he is preparing to pitch in 2024 and open to contract talks, per a report from Jon Morosi of MLB.com. He was reportedly still undecided on his future as recently as last month but it now seems he has tilted towards returning for another season on the mound.
Now 40 years old, Greinke is no longer the ace he was for most of his career, but he’s still a serviceable veteran capable of logging some solid innings. In each of the past two offseasons, he has signed one-year deals with the Royals, the club that gave him his start. Kansas City drafted him in 2002 and he pitched for them at the big league level from 2004 to 2010. He then went on an odyssey around the league, jumping to the Brewers, Angels, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Astros, before returning to Kansas City last year.
The 2022 campaign saw Greinke throw 137 innings with a 3.68 earned run average. He only struck out 12.5% of batters faced but limited walks to just a 4.6% clip and kept 41.3% of balls in play on the ground. His ERA jumped up to 5.06 this year, though his peripherals actually improved, with a 16.4% strikeout rate, 3.9% walk rate and 43.1% ground ball rate. But his strand rate went from 72.9% to 68.7% as a few more fly balls went over the fence, leading to a 4.74 FIP and 4.57 SIERA that paint a more flattering portrait.
It’s unclear how much interest Greinke would have in pitching for teams other than the Royals at this stage. He reportedly turned down similar offers from the Tigers and Twins prior to 2022, preferring to return to where his career began.
The Royals agreed to a deal with Seth Lugo today, adding him into the rotation mix alongside Cole Ragans, Brady Singer and Jordan Lyles, with guys like Daniel Lynch IV, Alec Marsh, Ángel Zerpa and others also in the mix.
General manager J.J. Picollo previously stated that the club could have around $30MM to spend in the offseason. The deal for Lugo, along with deals for Will Smith and Chris Stratton, have resulted in $24MM spent on upgrading the 2024 club. That suggests the budget might be getting a little tight, but it’s possible they can stretch it a bit. Greinke was given a guarantee of $13MM last year and a base of $8.5MM here in 2023, but there was also $7.5MM available in incentives, with Greinke eventually unlocking $4.5MM of those.
Perhaps the two sides could find a similar incentive-laden deal for 2024, allowing the club to further strengthen their pitching depth for the coming season. For Greinke personally, his career strikeout total currently sits at 2,979, just 21 punchouts away from the 3,000 milestone that only 19 pitchers have reached.