KC Royals: Why Zack Greinke returning is good for everyone
The KC Royals, fresh off a flurry of interesting moves that made last week probably their most productive of this offseason, have apparently closed their club's most anticipated deal of the winter.
Free agent Zack Greinke, on the market once again after playing out the one-year contract he signed to come back to Kansas City last season, is again a Royal. Greinke, who by all accounts wanted to return, and the Royals, who by all accounts wanted him as much as he wanted them, reportedly have another one-year deal worth at least $8-10 million to Greinke.
Although the Royals hadn't issued an official press release as of late Tuesday night, The Kansas City Star's Vahe Gregorian reported this early Tuesday evening:
Make no mistake about the arrangement, though. It won't make Greinke rich (he's already that) and won't propel Kansas City to the 2023 playoffs. But the deal is good for everyone.
Bringing Zack Greinke back is a strong and wise move for the KC Royals
Many teams in Kansas City's shoes wouldn't have signed Greinke. For them, his 223 wins, six All-Star team berths, half-dozen Gold Gloves, and his Cy Young award, wouldn't have been enough to get past the facts: he's obviously closing in on the end of the baseball line (at 39, he's preparing for his 20th big league season), his fastball rarely reaches 90, and he went an uncharacteristic 4-9 and landed on the Injured List twice last season, once with a right flexor strain and once with right forearm tightness.
But Greinke brings value to these Royals. The club is in transition, trying to trade mediocrity for competitiveness, and Greinke can help.
The righthander can still pitch. He won't win like he used to and there won't be another Cy Young waiting for him at the end of the season, but Greinke's still good enough to fill a spot in a terribly uncertain starting rotation for which only he, Brady Singer, and newcomer Jordan Lyles are locks, and still smart and artful enough to give the Royals some wins and a lot of good innings while his younger colleagues continue to learn.
Greinke provides more, though. Nowhere to be found in baseball media are reports of Greinke being a poor teammate or bad example last season; instead, all accounts detailing his relationship with the rest of the Royals describe a leader, mentor, and fine teammate to whom pitchers gravitated for advice and guidance.
Kansas City needs all of that this season. Greeting pitchers and catchers when they report to spring training Feb. 15 will be Matt Quatraro, a brand new manager heretofore untested beyond the role of bench coach in the majors, new pitching coach Brian Sweeney, also fresh to his role at the big league level, and new assistant pitching coach Zach Bove. New faces all to the Royals, they'll need time to acquire knowledge of the pitchers and their trust; the veteran Greinke can, and almost certainly will, help bridge the gap and make good relationships easier to form.
And his health? Kansas City is a cautious franchise, and wouldn't be risking even a $8-9 million salary on a pitcher whose health it doesn't trust. His signing alone strongly suggests the Royals are confident Greinke's 2022 right-arm issues will stay in the past.
Will Greinke last the season? Because Kansas City can be a sentimental organization, the Royals might want to hang on to him for the entirety of what may well be his final big league campaign, and Greinke may be sentimental enough that he wants to close out his career with the team it started with. Only if he's performing so well that trade deadline suitors offer prospect packages the Royals can't resist, and Greinke wants one more chance at the playoffs, are club and player likely to part ways this year.
Look for the Royals to be good for Greinke, and he for them, in 2023.