Although we’re deeply within “in-season” mode right now, and we certainly hope to see the Cubs in a position to emerge as buyers, it’s still worth keeping tabs on the deep post-2015 free agent market, because the Cubs are expected to be able and interested in spending on that class.
To that end, the pool of starting pitching talent is expected to be the best in recent memory, with all of David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Doug Fister, Mat Latos, and Hisashi Iwakuma scheduled to reach the market – to say nothing of possible international arms like Kenta Maeda and Chihiro Kaneko, and the extremely deep second tier of free agent arms (Yovani Gallardo, Mike Leake, Ian Kennedy, Bud Norris, and I could go on).
Performance and health this year will dictate how attractive some of those guys are, but, suffice it to say: It’s going to be a good time, relatively speaking, to need pitching.
One wild card in that market has long been Dodgers righty Zack Greinke, who has the right to opt out of his current deal with Los Angeles after this season. With three years and $73 million remaining on his contract, it’s very likely that Greinke – who will pitch next season at age 32 – could top that deal on the open market, even with a crowded pool of competition. He’s been that good, and relatively durable.
And, indeed, Jon Heyman reports that the current expectation among baseball execs is that Greinke will opt out of his deal after the 2015 season, making him yet another big-time arm in a market full of them.
That doesn’t mean he’ll make his services available to every team, of course, as he could do what others have done before, and technically opt out before renegotiating a couple years onto the back-end of his current deal. Or, of course, that negotiation could take place before the opt-out even arises.
In any case, though, Greinke’s decision will have an impact on the broader market, either because he is available or because he remains – at a steeper price – with the Dodgers, who are likely, themselves, to be wading into the pitching waters.
It’s still possible that an arm or two will be locked up before November rolls around, but it’s still shaping up to be an incredible year in free agency. This year’s Cubs team still has the bulk of my focus, but there’s more excitement just around the corner.