The Los Angeles Dodgers were the favorites to land Zack Greinke since the start of his free agency. There were some speed bumps along the way, with Greinke at one point seemingly preferring the Texas Rangers, but the Dodgers finally got their man as they signed Greinke to a six-year, 147 million dollar contract on Saturday. The Greinke signing was the end of a lengthy process for the Dodgers. However, for the Rangers and the rest of baseball, the signing of Greinke will continue to reverberate. We see at the Winter Meetings how not much happened because everyone was waiting on Greinke. Now, the wait is over and things could start happening fast.
Zack Greinke was the undisputed best pitcher on the market this offseason. Who’s second? The Tampa Bay Rays’ very own James Shields. We’ve heard about plenty of trade scenarios, from the Royals to the Rangers to the Diamondbacks to even the Dodgers at one point. Who wants Shields the most after this Greinke deal? We’re about to find out.
For the Rangers and Diamondbacks, things are getting crazy. There were reports that the Rays were planning on signing Greinke and trading with the Diamondbacks for Upton as part of a 4-team trade that would land Shields or the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera in the desert. The Diamondbacks have signed Brandon McCarthy, but as starting pitchers go, Shields is almost the exact opposite of McCarthy, being a pitcher who has been consistently durable the last six years while McCarthy seems to constantly go on the DL whether for arm problems or unfortunate incidents, and they could still be very interested in bolstering their rotation with Shields. The Diamondbacks now have pitching depth but could still acquire Shields so they can trade young pitching to the Indians for Cabrera. But now, don’t the Rangers want Shields as much as the Diamondbacks if not more? Now, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted, the Rangers could aim at re-signing free agent outfielder Josh Hamitlon and acquiring Shields. They are still interested in acquiring Upton according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, but wouldn’t they be more likely to steer Shields their way in any potential trade? Back-tracking for a second, before the Greinke signing the 4-team trade, in very vague terms, looked something like this.
Diamondbacks trade OF Justin Upton to Rangers and young pitchers to Indians and receive RHP James Shields and SS Asdrubal Cabrera.
Rangers trade INF Mike Olt and other prospects to the Rays and receive OF Justin Upton.
Indians trade SS Asdrubal Cabrera to the Diamondbacks and receive young pitching from Diamondbacks.
Rays trade RHP James Shields to the Diamondbacks and receive Mike Olt and other prospects from the Rangers.
Basically (if this can possibly be termed basic) the Diamondbacks were trading Justin Upton to the Rangers and using the prospects they would have gotten for the Rangers to acquire James Shields. Then they would use the additional rotation depth Shields gives them to trade pitching to the Indians for Asdrubal Cabrera. But now what’s happening? Could the Rangers lose interest in Upton and start competing with the Diamondbacks to acquire Shields with Upton possibly replacing his brother B.J. Upton in Tampa Bay in a possible deal? Could the Rangers trade for Upton anyway, which would turn the Hamilton market into complete chaos with them not an option, and then go to the free agent market or possibly the Mets’ R.A. Dickey for pitching help? Could the Rays and Rangers leave the 4-team trade discussion and do a direct trade of Shields for prospects? If they do, could they re-enter the Upton trade discussion (with Upton heading to Texas) trying to push Jeremy Hellickson as the pitcher the Diamondbacks could acquire? Could the 4-team trade become a 3-team trade with the Rangers out and become a trade with Upton heading to Tampa Bay, Shields and Cabrera heading to Arizona, and a boatload of prospects heading to Cleveland? Could another team replace Texas in the deal? Are the Diamondbacks at a disadvantage because they have almost to deal an outfielder with Upton, Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton, and Gerardo Parra giving them a surplus?
Now where do the Royals fit in? They have been dangling top outfield prospect Wil Myers for Shields, but the Rays have held out for even more in exchange for the most dependable starter in their history. Could the increased interest of the Texas, Arizona, and who knows what other teams make the Royals grit their teeth and give the Rays an offer more in line with what they desire? At the end of the day, what do the Rays really want? Is their ideal Myers, Justin Upton, or Mike Olt and more from the Rangers? Will the Rangers determine everything by how hard they go after Shields and Hamilton? Or are the Rays instead the team in control here because they get to pit pitching-starved teams against each other and decide where to trade Shields?
The Dodgers’ signing of Greinke has led a heightened sense of urgency for teams searching for pitching. But while teams may have a better idea of which teams are in the market for pitching this offseason, many more questions remain than answers as it remains to be seen which teams will target which players and how far are they willing to go to get deals done, and anything could happen over these next few weeks. Get ready for absolute madness, and by the end of it all, the landscape of Major League Baseball could have completely changed.