Could the Twins Sign Zack Greinke?
Sure, there are a few question marks surrounding the right-hander, who turns 29 this weekend. He's had some anxiety issues in the past, and his ERA in three seasons since winning the Cy Young with Kansas City is a somewhat pedestrian 3.83. Nevertheless, compared to this year's other big free agent prize, Josh Hamilton, Greinke looks like a perfectly safe bet. Many believe he'll get a nine-figure deal at a time where spending is ramping up and many clubs are looking for pitching help.
As a team that needs pitching more desperately than perhaps any other, could the Twins be a player for Greinke? It certainly wouldn't be in their nature to bid on a top free agent pitcher, but things have changed (you'd hope) in the Target Field era and this franchise could use a jolt to re-energize the fan base. Given the lack of high-end pitching in the pipeline, securing an arm like Greinke for the next five or six years would make a whole lot of sense.
It's difficult to envision Terry Ryan entering a bidding war against heavyweight suitors like the Angels and Rangers, but in a recent interview with ESPN 1500 he at least left open the possibility:
"We've certainly got to pay attention to the biggest names out there… We've got interest in those types of guys. Whether the years and dollars equate to what we're trying to do is another story."
The last part of that quote seemingly rules out the possibility of a mega-contract for someone like Greinke. Then again, if the club was internally mulling that type of investment, you would hardly expect them to shout it out and alert the rest of the league to their intentions.
More than most top-tier free agent pitchers, Greinke seems like a fit with Minnesota. He shies away from the bright spotlight more than your typical star player, and has spent nearly his entire career pitching in the Midwest. He's a quiet, cerebral guy that consistently throws strikes. This isn't a CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee, and he probably won't get paid like one, which could improve the chances for a club like the Twins.
Of course, there are going to be a lot of teams making their pitch to Greinke this winter. Getting in that mix would not only be uncharacteristic for the Twins, it would be unprecedented. But, when you get down to it, they do have the money to make this type of splash if they really wanted to, especially when you consider that Justin Morneau's $14 million will come off the books in a year and revenue would likely rebound substantially with a star like Greinke brought aboard.
Would they actually be willing to stray so far from their comfort zone and saddle themselves with another huge contract alongside Mauer's for the better part of the next decade? Difficult to fathom, but who knows. At some point, they need to stop operating like a small-market team.