Making Sense of the Zack Greinke Agent Situation

By: Ryan Smith

A few weeks back, I wrote an article that compared Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo. In that article, I mentioned that Zack Greinke will be a free agent after the 2012 season and he was currently planning on entering the season without an agent.

Well, now it appears that Greinke has had a change of heart.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported on Monday that Greinke was now planning on hiring an agent to handle contract negotiations for the talented right-hander. Bowden writes:

“On Sunday, Greinke said he’s changed his mind and decided to hire an agent. He is expected to consider several of the top agents in the business including Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA, Casey Close formerly of CAA, Adam Katz from Wasserman and Seth Levinson from ACES.”

So what are we to make of this new development with Greinke?

Let me begin by saying that I think this could be a step in the right direction.

I’ve read a few reports and numerous comments about how the Brewers missed their opportunity to get Greinke at a discount. After all, if he would have signed without an agent, there would have been no commission paid out, which would mean Greinke might sign for less. Some people also argued that negotiating one-on-one with Greinke would have given the Brewers a major advantage because, as intelligent as Greinke is, he’s not trained to be an agent.

To those arguments, I’d have to respectfully disagree.

First of all, who can say what Greinke would have demanded if he handled his own negotiations? I’m quite certain Greinke would have been well-prepared for that process, comparing his numbers and achievements with other pitchers who had ventured into free agency. He probably would have used the contracts they signed as a basis for his own potential deal. But why should we assume that he would have accepted a discount since his contract would be commission-free?

On top of that, I viewed Greinke’s lack of an agent as a detriment to the Brewers’ desires to sign him to a long-term deal before he would reach free agency. Basically, without an agent, I just didn’t see it happening once pitchers and catchers reported. At that point, I figured Greinke would be focused on getting ready for 2012, not worrying about 2013 and beyond.

Now, if Greinke signs with one of those previously-mentioned agents, negotiations can continue even while the Brewers’ co-ace gets ready for the regular season.

But why, after so recently stating that he planned to enter free agency sans-agent, do we suddenly find Greinke changing his mind?

I could be completely wrong here (which would not be the first time), but I think this can be viewed as a positive sign for Milwaukee.

If Greinke does indeed hire an agent, we could get used to seeing him take the mound for years to come.

Greinke has not tried to hide the fact that he has enjoyed his time in Milwaukee. And what’s not to like? He’s playing on a team that seems to genuinely enjoy the game of baseball. He has the reigning MVP putting runs on the board. He is greeted with a rousing ovation every time he takes the mound because this rabid fan base loves him.

The way I see it, maybe Greinke isn’t just paying lip service when he says he wants to stay in Milwaukee. Maybe he really does want to stay here. If that is the case, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to handle negotiations now that Spring Training has arrived, what would be the most logical thing for him to do?

Hire an agent to take care of that for him.

Look, I’m not saying this is a sign that Greinke is definitely read to commit long-term to the Brewers. It’s just not that simple when you’re talking about a guy who is going to be making somewhere between $80-100 million over the next stage of his career. I’ve mentioned that Greinke might be one of the smartest players in Major League Baseball, so maybe he just realized that it wasn’t in his best interests to go into this season without representation.

Still, I can’t help but look at this in a glass-half-full sort of way. Greinke doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who acts impulsively. In fact, he seems more like the kind of guy who would look at any decision from every possible angle before he acts. I think Greinke looked at his options, weighed the pros and cons of hiring an agent, and thought long and hard about what was best for him.

Once Spring Training started, I would have guessed that an agent-free Zack Greinke might be packing his bags next season.

Now? Well, let’s just say I think this is a step in the right direction for the Brew Crew. Even though he may not hire an agent until the end of the season anyway, at least he’s looking long-term and won’t be rushed through the process. He’ll have someone looking out for his best interests, and you can be sure 2012 will be a year that Milwaukee uses to promote the future of the franchise and Greinke’s beneficial role in that future.

And that means that we might be able to have the Greinke/Gallardo discussion for many years to come.

Cheers to that.

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