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USA Today’s Nightengale: Stunning if D-backs don’t trade Zack Greinke

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke, left, throws to Houston Astros' George Springer during the first inning of baseball game Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The sense around Major League Baseball is that the Arizona Diamondbacks are ready to go into a full rebuild.

That comes from word of mouth this week as the D-backs continue to heavily shop starting pitcher Zack Greinke, USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“I’d be stunned if he is (with Arizona in 2019), I really would be,” Nightengale said Friday. “I mean, they’re shopping him everywhere. It may take a package with Paul Goldschmidt just because of the money involved.”

Arizona’s first baseman has also been heavily mentioned in trade scuttle over the past few weeks, since the free agency period began.

While the team would like to get out from under Greinke’s contract worth three years and $35 million per season left, it also appears to be listening to trade options involving Goldschmidt. He has one year worth $14.5 million remaining on his deal.

“Their full intent is to have a rebuild here,” Nightengale said. “You can’t rebuild when you have a pitcher making 34-and-a-half million dollars.”

And that’s why including Goldschmidt in a package deal might be necessary.

“I know teams have talked about it at the GM meetings and the owners meetings,” Nightengale added. “One team for sure is (the) St. Louis Cardinals. They need a big power bat, they need another arm. Zack can reject trades of 15 teams. I don’t think St. Louis would be on there. I think he would actually love pitching in a city like St. Louis.”

The Diamondbacks might need to eat some of Greinke’s contract to get any deal involving him done.

Though Greinke is 35 years old, he’s continued to remain healthy. Last season, he went 15-11 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 33 starts.

Arizona, Nightengale said, could take on $10 million annually of the pitcher’s contract to make a trade more palatable for other teams. The USA Today reporter believes the D-backs will find a way to shed Greinke’s deal.

As for Goldschmidt, that’s a harder sell inside the franchise. The 31-year-old is coming off another stellar season in which he batted .290 with 33 home runs and 83 RBI.

Nightengale said the first baseman might net the team a prime prospect and some throw-ins due to the single year remaining on his contract. And that’s if Arizona ownership can accept parting with the team’s best player.

“I think they want a steep price to him,” Nightengale said. “That’s such a hard sell … in terms of the heart and the soul of a franchise.”

BASE HITS

— Nightengale believes D-backs starter Patrick Corbin, who is receiving interest from the Yankees and Phillies, will get the biggest contract of free agent pitchers. “I think you’re going to look at five years, in excess of $100 million for Corbin,” he said.

— As for fellow Arizona free agent A.J. Pollock, Nightengale believes the center fielder’s injury history is making teams cautious. “Teams are kicking the tires. Teams like (the) Cincinnati Reds are looking into it. What’s hurt him, of course, is all the injuries. I could see him more in the $50, $60 million range,” Nightengale said.

— Who won’t the D-backs consider trading? “I don’t think anybody’s safe, I really don’t,” Nightengale said. “I think they’re going to listen in on everybody, whether it’s (second baseman Ketel) Marte, (third baseman Jake) Lamb, you name it. That’s what you got to do.”

MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reports that Arizona is “described as one of the most active sellers on the trade market” at this point in the offseason.

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