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.

Zach Britton settles with the Orioles for $6.75 million

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Boston. The Orioles won 6-4. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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The Orioles and closer Zach Britton avoided an arbitration hearing, agreeing to a $6.75 million salary for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman reports. The club has now handled all of its remaining arbitration cases and won’t have to go to a hearing with any players.

Britton, in his second of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $7.9 million while the Orioles countered at $5.6 million. $6.75 million is exactly the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

The 28-year-old lefty saved 36 games in 40 chances last season for the O’s while putting up a 1.92 ERA with a 79/14 K/BB ratio over 65 2/3 innings.

The Blue Jays will also try to sign Josh Donaldson to a multi-year deal

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson gets up after being unable to handle an infield single by Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts during the fourth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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Tacking onto Friday’s report that the Blue Jays will attempt to sign Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to multi-year deals, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the club will try to do the same with third baseman and defending American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that Donaldson’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 15, so the two sides will have 10 days to hammer out a contract.

Donaldson, 30, is entering his second of four years of arbitration eligibility. After earning $4.3 million last season, Donaldson filed for $11.8 million and the Blue Jays countered at $11.35 million. The $450,000 difference isn’t much compared to some of the other disparities among arbitration-eligible players and their respective clubs. Jake Arrieta and the Cubs, for example, had a gap of $6.5 million.

This past season, Donaldson let the league in runs scored and RBI with 122 and 123, respectively, while batting .297.371/.568 with 41 home runs and 41 doubles. He earned 23 of 30 first place votes in AL MVP balloting, with runner-up Mike Trout of the Angels grabbing the other seven votes.

Reds prospect Juan Duran suspended 80 games

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Juan Duran, a minor-league outfielder in the Reds’ farm system, has been suspended 80 games following positive tests for the performance-enhancing drugs Drostanolone, Stanozolol, and Nandrolone.

Duran is 6-foot-7 with big-time power, averaging 23 homers per 150 games since 2011, but he also strikes out a ton and struggles to control the strike zone. He spent last season at Double-A, missing a lot of time with injuries and hitting .256 with six homers and a .728 OPS in 59 games as a 23-year-old.

Duran is on the 40-man roster and is considered a quasi-prospect, but he’ll be ineligible to play until July and figures to head back to Double-A once reinstated.

The Blue Jays will talk long term deals with Jose Bautistia and Edwin Encarnacion

Jose Bautista Blue Jays
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Ever since Alex Anthopoulos resigned as Blue Jays’ GM and Mark Shapiro took over as team president, a distinct air of frugality has set in over Rogers Centre. The go-for-broke attitude that fueled Toronto’s fantastic second half last year was repudiated and long-term, sustainable building has seemed to be the order of the day.

But the Jays aren’t going to go crazy with that: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Blue Jays plan to have long-term extension talks with the agents of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion during spring training. This, combined with the still-remaining possibility that they can avoid arbitration with MVP Josh Donaldson and hammer out a long-term deal could mean some serious spending by the Jays before Opening Day.

Or this could just be talk from the front office designed to buoy the spirits of fans. Locking up all three of them to long-term deals may be hella expensive and may not be possible. It’s also the case that, given their ages — Bautista is 35 and Encarnacion is 33 — it may not be advisable to lock the both up. As always, it depends on the terms and how generous Rogers Communications plans on being with the Jays’ budget.

But the chatter is now out there and expectations are poised to be set.