San Francisco Giants: Posey-Greinke All-Star Battery a Preview?


Tuesday’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game was like a bizarro world for San Francisco Giants’ fans. Giants’ All-Star catcher Buster Posey started the game, and through the course of his five innings of work behind the plate, he caught both of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ aces, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. But could his two innings working with Greinke be a sign of things to come for the Giants?

In his tenure with the Dodgers, Greinke has the “second-in-command” in the rotation, as Kershaw has been baseball’s best pitcher for years. But make no mistake, Greinke is an ace himself.

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This season, Greinke has been baseball’s most dominant pitcher. He leads the Majors with a 1.39 ERA, with some distance between him Sonny Gray, whose 2.04 ERA is second in the game. Greinke’s .191 opponent batting average, 0.843 WHIP, .231 opponent on-base percentage, and .276 opponent slugging percentage all rank second in baseball.

His resume speaks for itself. Now in his 12th season, Greinke has earned 131 wins, and has a 3.41 ERA and 1.201 WHIP in just under 2,000 innings. He took home a Cy Young Award in 2009, a Gold Glove in 2014, and this All-Star selection was his third.

Greinke is earning $25 million ($23 million base salary, plus a $2 million signing bonus) this season, and is slated to earn $26 million next year ($24m base, $2m signing bonus). That money next year isn’t guaranteed, and he could end up earning a lot more than that.

When Greinke and the Dodgers struck a deal before the 2013 season for a six-year deal worth $147 million, that included an opt out after the 2015 season, allowing Greinke to end his deal with the Dodgers and seek more money somewhere else.

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That’s where the Giants could come in. After this season, the Giants will have a boatload of money coming off their books: around $50 million, depending on a couple of options. Some big contracts will end, including Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson‘s. The Giants will have a lot of money to play with in the coming offseason, and Greinke seems like a likely target.

Before Tuesday’s Mid-Summer Classic, Greinke had some interesting things to say about the Giants when he was asked about last year’s World Series by USA Today.

"“I like the Giants players…so I couldn’t even decide who I wanted to win the World Series.”"

This seems like a harmless comment, but coming from a Dodgers’ player, it’s odd to hear, and even moreso when you consider that the Giants were pitted against Greinke’s former team, the Kansas City Royals.

Ask anyone who has talked to Greinke, and they’ll tell you that he doesn’t pull any punches or mince words. He’s straight-up and honest, and tells it how he sees it.

For San Francisco, it should be a priority to ensure they don’t have to face Greinke anymore. In eight career starts, Greinke has never lost to the Giants, going 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA and 1.052 WHIP. His teams are undefeated in those eight starts. In 2014 alone, Greinke beat the Giants in all five starts against them, allowing just six runs in 34 innings.

Greinke should have no problem fitting in in the Giants’ rotation. At AT&T Park, Greinke has started three times, has won twice, and allowed three runs and 17 baserunners in 18.1 innings. He’s also a very good hitter, and would give Madison Bumgarner and Chris Heston a run for their money. Greinke owns a career .209 average with 15 doubles and four home runs, and won the Silver Slugger in 2013.

From the looks of things now, and things can certainly change between now and the offseason, the Giants will have at least one open spot in the rotation. Lincecum and Hudson will be free agents, with Hudson presumably retiring. Ryan Vogelsong signed a one-year deal last offseason, so he will be available again. That leaves Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy, and Chris Heston in the rotation. Greinke would slot in nicely.

Even though they came up short in last offseason’s sweepstakes, the Giants weren’t shy about offering money to a frontline pitcher like Jon Lester. Greinke will command more money, but the Giants will have more money. It hasn’t been their style in recent memory to pick up the flashy free agent, but Greinke might be too good to pass up.

The Dodgers have taken on the Giants’ scraps on multiple occasions in recent memory. Maybe it’s time the Giants start returning the favor.

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