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The Eephus Deal: Zack Greinke

The veteran starting pitcher isn’t the starting pitcher of your free agency dreams, but 2022 is nearly a bust already, so let’s simmer down and have some fun!

Championship Series - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Based on how this year started, the 2022 baseball season is gonna be weird.

We might see bigger bases, pitch clock buzzers ringing out from scoreboards, neutral zone infractions called on infielders. If we get a full season, we’ll see a scheduling crunch with summer rain delays, more doubleheaders, 7-inning games. After a couple of months, the owners might not like “the product” on the field and institute a mid-season rule changes: batters have to swing cricket bats, pitchers throw with their non-dominant arm, multiple base runners can occupy a bag. Instead of playing baseball, owners will just broadcast Thursday Night Football or stream episodes of “Love is Blind” on the scoreboard while cleaning up on concessions and ticket sales.

If we get baseball this spring and summer, there’s going to be some funk to it and I think the San Francisco Giants need to lean into it. Let’s sign Zack Greinke!

2022 will be his 19th season as a pitcher in the Major Leagues. He turned 38 last October. He is absolutely insane in the most understated way, a CAT scan revealed his brain to be in the shape of a baseball diamond, his throwing arm is 80% rubber, he has probably pitched to 90% of hitters in the league, in the words of Mike Krukow, he’s “a gamer”, and Giants Twitter would be set for life if he pitched for San Francisco.

Yes, the odometer is nearing 200,000 miles and it might not a perfectly smooth ride, but this Mercedes Benz station wagon is going to get you where you need to go. And that’s exactly what the 2022 Giants are looking for right now: an innings eater with some experience in the playoffs. The last season (barring 2020) in which Zack Greinke pitched less than 150 innings was 2008. Last season, he logged 171 innings pitched. He’s not lights out by any stretch of the imagination but he attacks the zone and his walk rate is elite.

Greinke’s sole Cy Young Award came the same year Tim Lincecum won his second in 2009. Make no mistake—that was a long time ago. But he has stayed at the grown-ups table: he was in the top-10 in Cy Young voting in 2013, ‘14, ‘15 and ‘17. He was an All-Star in 2018 and 2019.

He’s also pitched in 17 postseason series over his career, including two of the last three World Series. That kind of durability might become even more valuable if the play-offs are expanded to 12 or god-forbid, 14 teams.

Greinke isn’t going to replace Kevin Gausman. He doesn’t strike people out. His fastball sputters out at 89 MPH. But he’ll make the roster better by gutting out a lot of innings, taking pressure off of a bullpen that will inevitably have to fight through a lot of close games in a tough division.

But I think Greinke’s real value lies in the fact that he’s a veteran’s veteran, looking to dot the I’s and cross the T’s on a Hall of Fame career. I doubt he wants to just cruise in his final season in the big leagues. He’s not fishing for a quick 10 mil before riding off into the sunset—he wants to leave his mark on the game. He wants to compete for a World Series ring as well as impart some wisdom to some younger players before glowing blue and dissolving into the spirit realm.

Logan Webb is the Giants ace in the making. I want Webb in the same clubhouse as Greinke for a season. I want someone like Tyler Beede chatting him up in the dugout. A pairing could pay dividends for Giants seasons to come.

And how fun would it be to watch Greinke throw to Joey Bart? It’d be like George pitching to Lennie from Of Mice and Men (just kidding Joey). So many blank stares as Bart mis-frames a pitch; Greinke patronizingly mouthing ‘Change-Up’ from the mound to his rookie catcher. Flashbacks to Cueto and Bart in 2020. Maybe this isn’t a selling point.

There are a lot of un-selling (?) points for a 38 year old starting pitcher. The Giants just came off a 107 win season and have money to spend—they should be throwing it at youngish, certified talent in multi-year contracts. I agree, but a deal for Greinke isn’t necessarily penny-pinching.

Due to his age, He’ll be cheap and expecting a one year offer. Signing him would still allow the front office to make a sizable move on another bat and/or corner outfielder, crossing two things off their shopping list instead of one.

And who knows—Greinke is sitting at 1800 strikeouts right now, he might catch fire, rediscover some of his old form and bag 200 K’s to get to 3,000 in a Giants uniform. Like Tim Hudson notching 2,000 in 2014. Or Randy Johnson collecting win number 300 in 2009.

It might just be the general malaise of the times pickling my reason—but I’m all in on this idea. Come on people! Whoo-hoo! Let’s lean into the fun(k)!

At the very least, he could DH.