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Zack Greinke may not be worth all of the fuss

Nov 4, 2012, 9:46 PM EDT

Zack Greinke Getty Images

There’s a pretty good chance that Zack Greinke is going to get the biggest contract ever given to a right-hander within these next six weeks or so. Yet he’s hardly been a spectacular starter these last three years.

Here he is compared to the other top seven starters in this winter’s free agent class:

Z. Greinke…: 3.83 ERA, 582/154 K/BB in 604 IP – 106 ERA+

A. Sanchez..: 3.70 ERA, 526/182 K/BB in 587 IP – 109 ERA+

K. Lohse……: 3.76 ERA, 308/115 K/BB in 491 IP – 101 ERA+

E. Jackson..: 4.10 ERA, 497/198 K/BB in 599 IP – 100 ERA+

H. Kuroda…: 3.26 ERA, 487/148 K/BB in 618 IP – 120 ERA+

D. Haren….: 3.75 ERA, 550/125 K/BB in 650 IP – 104 ERA+

R. Dempster: 4.04 ERA, 552/220 K/BB in 591 IP – 102 ERA+

S. Marcum..: 3.62 ERA, 432/141 K/BB in 520 IP – 113 ERA+

Knowing nothing about any of these pitchers other than their names, one still might say Greinke is the best bet of the group, since he does have top best strikeout rate of the bunch. And, of course, this three-year span doesn’t include Greinke’s Cy Young season in 2009.

Still, it’s three years of quality, but hardly awe-inspiring, pitching for a guy who is almost certainly will earn north of $20 million and maybe as much as $25 million per season in his contract.

And I’m just not at all convinced that he’s worth it. The Angels could have kept Haren for $12 million and gotten another pitcher from this list for about what they’ll spend on Greinke next year, assuming they’re even able to re-sign him. Greinke is going to be bid on as though he’s in the same class as Matt Cain and Cole Hamels, and he hasn’t been. Cain, whose $127.5 million deal with the Giants is currently the biggest ever for a righty, has a 123 ERA+ the last three years. Hamels, whose deal is worth $144 million for six years, has a 134 ERA+.

One other thought: Kuroda has outpitched Greinke three straight seasons. How is he not worth more than $20 million on a one-year deal? It’s pretty crazy that a few teams are going to be willing to guarantee Greinke at least $20 million-$22 million six years out, yet Kuroda might end up settling for $13 million-$15 million on a one-year deal.

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