Royals starting pitching has been a roller coaster this season, with some encouraging progress from Brady Singer, and flashes of brilliance mixed with inconsistencies from most of the rest of the pitching staff. But one constant has been veteran pitcher Zack Greinke. The 38-year-old returned to Kansas City on a one-year, $13 million deal after reaching out to Royals legend George Brett about the possibility of ending his career with the team that drafted him.
Even at this age, Greinke has given the Royals their money’s worth with a 4.14 ERA in 21 starts that has him second on the pitching staff in fWAR at 1.2. He has been a model of consistency, going at least five innings or more in 15 of his 21 starts, and he has the 14th-lowest walk rate of any pitcher with at least 100 innings this year. But aside from the stats, Greinke has been a veteran mentor for the younger pitchers to learn from. For a pitching staff that still needs to learn to throw strikes, Greinke can be a valuable resource.
Brady Singer sat near Zack Greinke throughout Daniel Lynch’s bullpen & live session this afternoon.— Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) March 19, 2022
“He’s very honest,” Singer said. “It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth and it’s going to help you in the long run.” #Royals pic.twitter.com/NPpgvzDMFi
This fall, Greinke will be the only MLB free agent for the Royals to decide what to do with. According to General Manager J.J. Picollo, the team would love a reunion. He spoke recently on Cody and Gold on 610 Sports and seemed to welcome the veteran for another season.
“We definitely would have interest in having Zack back...I think the discussion at the end of the year will be more about where Zack is in his career, if he wants to continue his career.”
Picollo stressed it was up to Zack if he wanted another season in Royal blue.
“It’s really in his hands and how he feels about his body, his arm, and what his mindset is going forward, if he wants to continue his career.”
Greinke turns 39 this October, and this is his 19th big league season in what has been a Hall of Fame-caliber career. He does have three young kids, all under age 8. Despite the losing, however, he has seemed to enjoy his time in Kansas City this season, according to 610 Sports Insider Josh Vernier.
“I don’t know if anyone knows Zack Greinke, at least in the organization, as well as George Brett,” he said. “Or at least gets to converse as regularly with Greinke as George Brett. Watching [him] converse with those around [him] and yeah, it certainly seems like he’s having as much fun as he’s ever had at the big league level. You watch him and Salvy during the game yesterday ... they spent a solid two innings just laughing, talking baseball.
The Royals have some financial flexibility next year, but will probably balk at paying Greinke $13 million again at his age. Something more like a one-year deal with a base salary of $8-10 million and some incentives if he stays healthy would be more likely.
Ideally, the young Royals pitchers would have developed enough there would be no need for a 39-year-old veteran on a one-year deal. But right now, Brady Singer is the only real lock in the rotation, with Daniel Lynch very likely to be there as well. The rest of rotation seems very fluid, with Brad Keller, Kris Bubic, Luke Weaver, Carlos Hernández, Jonathan Heasley, Max Castillo, Jackson Kowar, and Angel Zerpa all candidates to start next year. Despite having many candidates, the Royals are always looking to get more innings, and Greinke has been about as consistent as it gets, even in his later years. If he’s up for another round with the Royals, it sounds like they’ll be happy to have him.
Should the Royals bring Zack Greinke back?
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