Doug Melvin, Gord Ash, and the Brewers organization have made it abundantly clear that they wish to agree to a long-term contract extension with right-hander Zack Greinke prior to Opening Day.
That extension could be closer than previously thought.
Jim Bowden of ESPN wrote on Tuesday afternoon that Greinke officially decided to hire an agent. While simply hiring an agent certainly does not guarantee anything, it is a good indicator that serious negotiations between the Brewers and Greinke have either already begun or are about to take place.
When the 28-year-old hurler arrived to camp in mid-February, he stated that he was in no rush to have an agent because there was “no reason” to have one. Something must have changed in the past two weeks to spur such a dramatic change in his representation (or non-representation, as it were).
Contract negotiations are likely to start with the five-year, $85M extension signed by Los Angeles Angels right-hander Jered Weaver. Whether Greinke could ink a larger contract than the one Weaver received, however, is unclear. Here are several things to consider.
- Weaver reportedly left money on the table and took a “hometown discount” because he wished to remain with the Angels. That lack of leverage allowed the Angels to sign a team-friendly contract. Of course, one could argue that Greinke would lack the same leverage, though his desire to stay may not match that of Jered Weaver.
- Weaver has steadily improved the past three seasons — 3.75 ERA (2009), 3.01 ERA (2010), and 2.41 ERA (2011) — while Greinke experienced a bump in the road — 2.16 ERA (2009), 4.17 ERA (2010), 3.83 ERA (2011). One could easily argue Weaver is the better pitcher at this point in his career. That matters.
- Greinke has won a Cy Young award, which certainly impacts the monetary value of contracts, and Weaver has not.
- Greinke has been worth more (+18.3 WAR) over the past three years than has Weaver (+15.2 WAR).
Legitimate arguments exist on both sides of the coin. If Greinke agrees to an extension this spring, it is not a foregone conclusion that it will be more lucrative than the one Weaver signed last year. Of course, this argument is working under the assumption that Greinke seeks a five-year deal. Perhaps he desires more, or perhaps he desires a shot at free agency during his prime years and wants less.
Either way, it is understandable that Doug Melvin desires to lock up Greinke to a multi-year extension. The potential, however remote, to have a 2014 starting rotation featuring Greinke, Gallardo, Peralta, Jungmann, and Bradley is mouth-watering. It illustrates the stark contrast between the 2009/2010 rotations that kept the teams from contending for postseason berths and the rotations that could anchor this club in the near future.
The team announced on Monday afternoon that right-hander Shaun Marcum has been scratched from his Saturday start due to lingering shoulder stiffness.
Elbow and shoulder injuries are nothing new for Marcum in his career. He missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and arrived to camp last year with shoulder stiffness. His pitching mechanics have always put extra stress on his arm, which underscores why any inkling of soreness causes consternation and concern.
No indication has been given that Marcum will miss any significant time this spring or during the regular season. He will simply miss a scheduled start and will be behind the remainder of the starting pitchers in terms of his throwing program and simply building arm strength.
If this issue does not disappear, however, all indications point to either right-hander Michael Fiers or fellow right-hander Wily Peralta as the possible spot starter until Marcum can prove completely healthy and ready to pitch in game action. Marco Estrada served that role last season, though the Brewers would likely keep him in the bullpen to maintain his flexibility as swingman reliever.
Marcum threw the most regular season innings (200.2) of his career in 2011 and also started three games in the postseason. He finished the year with a 3.54 ERA and was +2.7 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.