Despite rumors, a Greinke deal doesn’t seem feasible

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - I’m interested in seeing what this morning’s cab ride over to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center has in store for me.

My cab driver yesterday morning asked me whether I was a part of the Southwest Poultry Farmers convention that apparently is in town.

I wish.

If I get bored talking about pitching in the next three days here in Nashville, maybe I can find that gathering and talk some poultry.

When it comes to pitching, the biggest name on the free agent market this offseason is Zack Greinke, the 6-foot-2 Apopka, Fla., native, who’s going to score a contract well north of $100 million.

Needing another starter to round out their rotation, the Nationals have been linked to Greinke over the last couple weeks. Those rumors aren’t inaccurate; the Nats have liked Greinke for a while now and tried to pull off a trade for the right-hander two years ago when he was with the Royals, only to see those talks die when Greinke declined to waive his no-trade clause.

But is a Greinke-to-the-District deal actually feasible?

A commenter yesterday brought up Adam LaRoche’s negotiations with the Nationals, saying that instead of spending big on LaRoche, he’d prefer to see the Nats conserve money, allowing them to re-sign Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper to down the road.

I’m not sure giving LaRoche $30 million would prevent the Nationals from making future moves in regards to Strasburg or Harper, but I agree with the broader premise. I replied to the commenter that I take that same mindset (on a much larger scale) when it comes to Greinke, and I’m not alone.

Not only do the Nationals already have two $100-plus million guys currently on their roster (Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman are still owed a combined $213 million over the length of their deals), they have a handful of young players who they will have interest in re-signing in the coming years. And that has led multiple industry sources to wonder if the Nats can truly make a run at Greinke.

We’re not just talking about Strasburg and Harper here, although those are obviously massive question marks which loom in the future. Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond are also guys that the Nats would like to keep around long-term, and tens of millions of dollars will need to be tossed in their direction to get a deal done, as well.

Teams often try and negotiate affordable long-term deals with their young stars while they’re still under contract, buying out their arbitration years and a few free agent seasons, and that would appear to be possible down the road with Zimmermann and Desmond.

Strasburg and Harper are both represented by Scott Boras, however, and those around the game know there’s almost no chance Boras will give the Nats a hometown discount or even show interest in an extension before each player reaches free agency and can score an insanely large payday.

No, the Nats don’t seem to have any major financial limitations, and the Lerner family isn’t exactly hurting for cash. But there are only so many monster deals you can already have on the books when you’re attempting to re-sign some combination of Strasburg, Harper, Zimmermann and Desmond over the next few years.

Greinke is a very good pitcher (although his 3.96 ERA over the last three seasons might say otherwise) and he would certainly qualify as the “impactful” starter that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is looking for.

Is Greinke worthy of a $150 million deal? Some might say he is, others would disagree. Regardless of where the Nats stand on the issue, it’s hard to see them spending what it will take to lure the 29-year-old hurler away from the Dodgers and other interested parties. The Nationals’ payroll is manageable now, but when they need to open the checkbook and write a big number to keep one of their homegrown talents in a couple years, they need to make sure they have enough cash left to play with.

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