MLB Free Agency: Why Zack Greinke Will Return to the Milwaukee Brewers

Chris Schad@@crishadContributor IIISeptember 28, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Zack Greinke #23 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the fifth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 25, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Coming into the 2012 season, one of the biggest questions for the Milwaukee Brewers was whether Zack Greinke would be a member of the team in 2013.

With Greinke heading into the final year of a four-year, $38 million extension signed prior to the 2009 season, the Brewers needed to decide quickly on whether they wanted to risk losing Greinke for nothing (ala CC Sabathia in 2008) or try to get something for him before he tested free-agency.

After offering Greinke a five-year extension worth over $100 million in mid-July, the Brewers decided to pull the trigger on the deal that sent him to the Los Angeles Angels after Greinke declined.

With the Brewers getting a nice haul including shortstop Jean Segura, it seemed like this would be the end of the story and both sides would go their separate ways. Or is it?

Greinke got off to a rough start for the Angels. Over his first five starts with his new team, Greinke went 1-2 with a 6.19 earned run average in 32 innings.

Since then, Greinke has calmed down a bit (5-0, 1.62 ERA in his last seven starts). However, is there a chance that Greinke could turn around and head back to build a strong Brewer rotation?

The odds could surprisingly be in the Brewers favor. Over a year and a half in Milwaukee, Greinke went 25-9 with the Brewers, including a spotless 15-0 with a 2.89 ERA at Miller Park.

As you can see, Greinke was incredibly comfortable in his home ballpark and that is huge considering Greinke has social anxiety disorder that was diagnosed prior to the 2006 season. This may be unscientific, but the more comfortable Greinke is, the better he'll pitch.

In Milwaukee, players left Greinke alone and let him do his thing. The lights haven't been turned all the way up in Los Angeles, but it's a much bigger market than Milwaukee.

With the Angels making Greinke their top priority this offseason, there's a good possibility that those lights that have been set to normal room brightness could be jacked up to the point where it's like staring at the sun.

Greinke could thrive in that environment, but there's a better possibility of him not living up to a massive contract in a gigantic market (see Albert Pujols).

This scenario may seem completely far fetched, but you might be surprised.

After all, we are a couple years removed from seeing Cliff Lee turn down more money from the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, and several other teams to accept an offer where he was more comfortable with in the Philadelphia Phillies.

With a rotation that's becoming stronger by the day, the Brewers have a chance to add another solid top-of-the-rotation starter to pair with some strong young pitching.

Greinke's price tag has gone up with his recent performance, but if he's not comfortable in Los Angeles, he could return to be the ace of the Milwaukee Brewers once again.