Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke may not be worth all of the fuss

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There’s a pretty good chance that Zack Greinke is going to get the biggest contract ever given to a right-hander within these next six weeks or so. Yet he’s hardly been a spectacular starter these last three years.

Here he is compared to the other top seven starters in this winter’s free agent class:

Z. Greinke…: 3.83 ERA, 582/154 K/BB in 604 IP – 106 ERA+

A. Sanchez..: 3.70 ERA, 526/182 K/BB in 587 IP – 109 ERA+

K. Lohse……: 3.76 ERA, 308/115 K/BB in 491 IP – 101 ERA+

E. Jackson..: 4.10 ERA, 497/198 K/BB in 599 IP – 100 ERA+

H. Kuroda…: 3.26 ERA, 487/148 K/BB in 618 IP – 120 ERA+

D. Haren….: 3.75 ERA, 550/125 K/BB in 650 IP – 104 ERA+

R. Dempster: 4.04 ERA, 552/220 K/BB in 591 IP – 102 ERA+

S. Marcum..: 3.62 ERA, 432/141 K/BB in 520 IP – 113 ERA+

Knowing nothing about any of these pitchers other than their names, one still might say Greinke is the best bet of the group, since he does have top best strikeout rate of the bunch. And, of course, this three-year span doesn’t include Greinke’s Cy Young season in 2009.

Still, it’s three years of quality, but hardly awe-inspiring, pitching for a guy who is almost certainly will earn north of $20 million and maybe as much as $25 million per season in his contract.

And I’m just not at all convinced that he’s worth it. The Angels could have kept Haren for $12 million and gotten another pitcher from this list for about what they’ll spend on Greinke next year, assuming they’re even able to re-sign him. Greinke is going to be bid on as though he’s in the same class as Matt Cain and Cole Hamels, and he hasn’t been. Cain, whose $127.5 million deal with the Giants is currently the biggest ever for a righty, has a 123 ERA+ the last three years. Hamels, whose deal is worth $144 million for six years, has a 134 ERA+.

One other thought: Kuroda has outpitched Greinke three straight seasons. How is he not worth more than $20 million on a one-year deal? It’s pretty crazy that a few teams are going to be willing to guarantee Greinke at least $20 million-$22 million six years out, yet Kuroda might end up settling for $13 million-$15 million on a one-year deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.