Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin indicated that Zack Greinke wanted to test the open market as a free agent no matter what, which obviously played a big part in the Brewers trading him.
However, now that he’s with the Angels there are already questions about whether Greinke might bypass free agency for a big-money deal.
General manager Jerry Dipoto downplayed that possibility, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that the two sides haven’t even discussed a potential contract extension. It’s very early, of course–Greinke has made just one start for his new team–but Gonzalez notes that the Angels will have plenty of money to throw around this offseason with Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, and potentially Ervin Santana and Dan Haren coming off the books.
Greinke has said he was very happy to be traded to the Angels, but compared to the Brewers they may not feel the same sense of urgency to get something done during the season because they’ve shown the ability to out-bid teams for big-name free agents on the open market before.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.