With NL East Title at Stake, the Braves and Phillies Should Pursue Zack Greinke

When the 2018 season began, both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves were ready to come out of their rebuilds. The Phillies were more aggressive in their pursuit signing high-priced veterans Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana to three-year deals. The Braves had a strong core led by Freddie Freeman that eventually won the National League East title that we all thought belonged to the Washington Nationals. Even in Bryce Harper‘s contract year, the Nationals underwhelmed missing the postseason entirely.

All three clubs have already made headlines as the Winter Meetings get underway this week in Las Vegas. The Washington Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to the largest contract for a pitcher we’ll see this winter. The Braves have already brought in Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann to build off their best year in the past five. Phillies owner John Middleton made a bold statement saying the club would spend “stupid money” to put his team back in contention.

Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo struck early on Corbin, and now has the other division teams looking in the rear-view mirror until they address their holes in the starting rotation.

Here’s a scenario that should be explored by both the Phillies and Braves that won’t qualify as stupid money, but an aggressive move nonetheless. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke is available, and he can be the missing piece that decides who wins the NL East. Arizona has already moved on from Paul Goldschmidt, and it appears that Greinke will be the next domino to fall.

A potential Zack Greinke acquisition could be what decides the tight race to the top of the NL East, as the @Braves and the @Phillies could use him. @kyle_oneill96 has more.Click To Tweet

Greinke has three years left on his deal worth over $100 million. It’s the same number of years that Arrieta received so the length of the deal is more club-friendly. It was also reported that the Phillies were in on Corbin, but not at six years. Despite Greinke entering his age 35 season, he can still pitch at a high level. Greinke went 15-11 with a 3.21 ERA in 207 innings.

However, there is one impediment which is that the Phillies are on Greinke’s partial no-trade list making it more difficult to pull off a deal. With that said, it’s not an absolute deal-breaker, and the Phillies can try to convince him if they end up being his best opportunity to win a World Series.

The Phillies would most likely have to part with a young pitcher such as Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, or Zach Eflin. Velasquez was once a highly regarded pitching prospect, but Eflin, at 24 years old, appears to have the most trade value. Also, the Braves’ young pitchers are more prospects, therefore they might not value giving them up for Greinke. Depending on who they’re most comfortable with parting, the Phillies can have the D-Backs eat some money based on the return. Despite trading Goldschmidt, general manager Mike Hazen has shown no inclination to enter a tear-down, and all those three pitchers can immediately enter the big league rotation, while the D-Backs get significant financial relief.

Fortunately for the Braves, they are not on Greinke’s no-trade list. Along with bullpen help and an outfielder, GM Alex Anthopoulos is searching for one more pitcher in the rotation. Mike Foltynewicz is currently their number one starter, although a veteran that can throw 200 innings at the top of the rotation will only help. Also, Greinke will be most needed in the postseason where Foltynewicz struck out 10 hitters in his first postseason start, but allowed five runs in six innings. If the D-Backs asked for major-league ready starters to replace Greinke, they could include Julio Teheran in a potential deal.

Teheran has two years of club control worth $23 million, which can give the D-Backs a proven starter, and alleviate some some of the money heading to the Braves. He has slightly regressed since entering the big leagues, however in 2018 he posted a 3.94 ERA with a 8.3 K/9, and is worth the flyer.

Other teams searching for pitching include the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, and the Milwaukee Brewers, yet they don’t seem to be fits for a variety of reasons. The Yankees have had concerns of Greinke’s ability to pitch in New York when they discussed him in the past. The Padres are not a win-now team, while the Brewers could be scared off because of the contract. This leads to the Braves and Phillies in the driver’s seat if they so choose.

The Nationals have their big fish, and now is the time for either of these two teams to pounce with major postseason implications on the line.

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