Zack Greinke sounds like he intends to take a wait-and-see approach before committing to a long-term future with the Royals.
“I’m comfortable with my pitching ability,” he said, “to (the point) where I feel like I’m going to pitch (well) for a while. I don’t need to get a long-term deal because I feel I’ll be able to pitch (well) and earn a long-term deal when I become a free agent.”
Greinke's comments came Tuesday on a teleconference conducted following his selection as recipient of the Joe Burke Special Achievement award by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Club officials previously indicated a desire to work out a long-term contract for Greinke, who isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2010 season. The club’s preference is to buy out at least one year of free-agent eligibility.
“Zack has been a big part of stabilizing our pitching here in Kansas City,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “We expect him to continue to provide that consistency. We look forward to the opportunity for him to continue his career here.”
Greinke indicated his decision might hinge on the Royals’ on-field success.
“I love the city,” he said. “It’s just trying to figure out how good we’re going to be. The city is great for me.”
Industry analysts suggest the framework for any deal is likely to be the three-year contract that Scott Kazmir signed last May with Tampa Bay. Kazmir gets $28.5 million in guaranteed salary but surrenders his first year of free-agent eligibility.
That guarantee includes a $2.5 million buyout on the Rays’ option for $13.5 million in a fourth year.
Greinke, 25, was 13-10 last season with a 3.47 ERA in 32 starts. It marked his first full season in the rotation since 2005 and appeared to certify his full recovery from emotional issues diagnosed before the 2006 season.
Moore acknowledged the failure to reach a long-term agreement could prompt the Royals to trade for Greinke _ but not at any point in the immediate future.
“That’s jumping ahead a little bit,” Moore said, “but that’s a logical conclusion you can make with any player who approaches free agency.”
Greinke is entering his second off-season of arbitration eligibility after making $1.4 million in 2008. His salary for next season seems likely to reach $3 million or more. “It’s still the club’s option to do whatever it wants,” he said. “I still have a two-year (commitment) with them. That’s pretty long-term. I don’t really know how things are going to work out or what’s going to happen here.”