Brewers owner Mark Attanasio joined Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder on the FS Wisconsin telecast on Sunday afternoon. The conversation meandered from Attanasio’s reaction after the Brewers clinched the NL Central pennant last year to free agent’s desire to come to Milwaukee.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of information that could be gleaned from the interview, however, stemmed from a question about the possibility of extending Zack Greinke and John Axford.
Attanasio stated that GM Doug Melvin was scheduled to meet with Greinke’s agent, Casey Close, early this week to discuss a potential extension to remain in Milwaukee for the foreseeable future. The market for the right-hander has seemingly crystalized following the Matt Cain extension last week, and Greinke coincidentally hired an agent shortly thereafter.
A meeting between a GM and an agent does not guarantee any result whatsoever. The two sides do appear interested in working out an agreement, though, and contract extensions can generally be had if the two sides display enough interest. Not only that, but CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman also wrote last week that speculation within the game suggests Greinke does not wish to reach free agency this winter. Heyman wrote:
There’s talk, too, Greinke won’t want to leave Milwaukee. But there was at least as much belief Cain didn’t want to leave San Francisco. One thing about Greinke seems to be that he is intent on pitching for a winner; he wasn’t certain the Nationals were ready to win so he rejected a chance to go to them and receive an extension that approached $100 million last winter in favor of the Brewers and no extension.
The above passage hints that Greinke wants to stay in Milwaukee, but will not give the Brewers a “hometown discount” to do so. It will likely take a contract much like the five-year, $112.5M contract given to Matt Cain to keep the hurler in a Brewers uniform beyond this season, but legitimate arguments can be made that Cain has performed better than Greinke over the past couple of seasons. Perhaps Greinke can be signed for a little less than what Cain garnered from the San Francisco Giants.
Another factor that will affect the money Greinke can command from the Brewers is the ever-present concern about his social anxiety disorder. It has seemingly been a non-issue in Milwaukee, but ESPN’s Buster Olney says multiple teams across the league already have thrown out the possibility of signing Greinke due to concerns that he is troublesome within the clubhouse. That perception could give Greinke more incentive to sign with the Brewers, an organization that has clearly embraced him, and in a smaller metro area that results in lesser public scrutiny.
The Milwaukee Brewers need an ace atop their rotation for the next half-decade. Zack Greinke can be that pitcher. He showed that much on Saturday afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals, an offense that carved up the remainder of the Brewers’ pitching staff in the other two contests. The organization has a sincere desire to keep him in Milwaukee and to sign him to a lucrative contract extension. What remains to be seen is his level of interest in remaining with the Brewers franchise.
Do not expect to read news of a contract extension early this week. The two sides are simply going to meet for the first time and discuss interest, parameters of a potential deal, and likely seek to establish leverage. The Brewers do not normally discuss business with the media, however, which makes this Greinke extension talk so intriguing.
Hopefully, the picture becomes much more clear after Melvin and Close are able to meet this week. Keep in mind, however, that Greinke potentially drives up his price the longer he is allowed to pitch this season without concrete negotiations. Another outing or two like the one on Saturday, and Greinke will drive his price higher and higher. The Brewers need to expedite this process as much as Greinke and his agent allow because a $100-110M contract extension could legitimately appear like a bargain after the season is over, especially if Greinke performs as expected this season.