Blue Jays: Could Zack Greinke be the missing piece the Jays need?

Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins
Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins / Matt Krohn/GettyImages

Zack Greinke is a well-rounded and accomplished baseball player. Making his debut at just the ripe age of 20 in 2004 with the Kansas City Royals, he had a relatively decent start to his career. He had an 8-11 record that season and took fourth place in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Not too bad for your MLB debut. 

Greinke would go on to be a pretty decent pitcher where he would be useful and reliable in the rotation. It wasn’t until 2009 where he was named an All-Star, a contender for an MVP and won a Cy Young award. From that point on, he became a household name throughout the years by being named a six-time All-Star, a six-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time ERA champion and even a two-time Silver Slugger. 

Currently, Greinke is a free agent, having played for the Kansas City Royals last year. It’s been reported that he would like to return to the Royals rather than retire after 19 seasons in the MLB. It would make sense that Greinke wants to return to the Royals for the 2023 season and then possibly retire with he team he made his debut with. Personally, if Greinke wanted to truly return to the Royals, he would have done so already with the lower-end offers they have made him. 

This is where the Toronto Blue Jays come in.

Greinke’s resume clearly shows he has what it takes to be a useful pitcher in whatever staff he’s placed into. The Toronto Blue Jays could be a likely new home for the free agent. The Jays are coming off a 2022 season that saw them go 92-70, good for second place in the AL East. 

The Jays have a solid projected pitching rotation for 2023, but with a possible hole falling at the end of their rotation. Yusei Kikuchi has been an issue for the team since he was signed in the 2021-22 offseason. He is 31-years-old and has struggled to maintain a quality ERA and plate control. Debuting with Seattle in 2019, he struggled with a 6-11 record holding a 5.46 ERA. From then on, he would continue to have an ERA over 5.00 until his All-Star year in 2021. That year Kikuchi would have a 7-9 record with a 4.41 ERA. 

This past season, Kikuchi went 6-7 with a 5.19 ERA and had a WHIP of 1.500. His ERA+ was 75, meaning he was 25 percent below league-average on the year.

The Blue Jays could really turn things up a notch, not only with pulling Kikuchi from the starting rotation and placing a veteran in his spot, but in the clubhouse as well. Toronto is a relatively young team and younger teams could always use more serious veterans in the clubhouse, like Brandon Belt and Greinke, to ground the excited younger generation of players. Bringing in a caliber pitcher with a rich history of awards and accolades could give the younger crowd something to look up to. 

Baseball Reference has a projected stat line for both Greinke and Kikuchi, with the former pulling out on top as the more reliable pitcher, even at an older age. Greinke, the 39-year-old free agent, is projected to go 7-8 with a 3.97 ERA over145 innings and a WHIP of 1.297. 

The rest of the stats are mostly better, but comparable with Kikuchi. Baseball Reference has Yusei going 6-7 with a 4.58 ERA over 118 innings pitched with a WHIP of 1.373.

Comparing the two, it almost benefits the Blue Jays to pick up Greinke to give their young pitching staff, led by budding superstar Alek Manoah, something to look to and get advice from. This could be the key they need in the clubhouse to be a contender for the 2023 postseason run.

Other than just their projected stat lines, Greinke is a seasoned pitcher that’s been in almost every situation you could think of and has been a part of countless playoff runs. This could be incredibly useful in a Blue Jays playoff run of their own, not only from the physical aspect of pitching, but the mental side of the game too. Having a pitcher that’s been around the game this long could be of value to a young team and a young pitching staff. zGreinke has nearly every award under his belt, except a World Series. Could this veteran pitcher be what the Blue Jays need to win it all for 2023? 

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