ESPN Survey Reveals MLB Executives Prefer Zack Greinke To David Price In Free Agency
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks and months leading up to the 2015-16 Major League Baseball offseason, it was apparent the free agent market would be chock full of talented starting pitchers.

The headliners in the group are Zack Greinke and David Price, and they’re joined by the likes of Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann, among others.

The Los Angeles Dodgers extended the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer to Greinke, which he’s expected to reject in favor of a long-term deal in excess of $100 million.

With free agency yet to hit its stride and the Winter Meetings less than one month away, ESPN surveyed 34 general managers, assistant general managers, scouting directors and baseball evaluators on a variety of topics.

One of the poll questions was if they would feel more comfortable signing Greinke or Price this winter:

Which staff ace would you be more comfortable giving a nine-figure deal — David Price or Zack Greinke?

Responses: Greinke 19; Price 14. One executive called it a push.

One American League scout explained why the decision is easily Greinke:

“Greinke is an easy one here,” said an AL scout. “His delivery is too good, his control and command too spot on, his pitchability too high. He’s got athleticism and he’s intelligent — all the characteristics you need to age gracefully. I am not saying Price does not possess these same characteristics. I just don’t think he has them at the advanced levels that Greinke has them.”

A National League scout who also favors Greinke compared the right-hander to Hall of Famer Greg Maddux and a 747 airplane:

“He is our modern-day equivalent to Greg Maddux, where we saw a slow decline with his velo, but little drop in his effectiveness because his was a movement and change-of-speed art form that can be just as effective at 89-90 as it is at 92,” the scout said in an email. “Greinke is the same way, with, perhaps, more weapons. I also like that he cruises much like a 747 when it gets to 40,000 feet. I heard they use about 50% of their power capacity at that point, which reduces the wear and tear on the plane. I think Greinke does the same thing. Never out of control, hardly sweats. Cruising. Perhaps it will put less wear and tear on his engine/elbow/shoulder.”

Greinke went 19-3 with an MLB-best 1.66 ERA, 225 ERA+ and 0.84 WHIP in 2015. His ERA title snapped Clayton Kershaw’s four-year run of leading the Majors in that statistic. Greinke also had a 45.2 scoreless innings streak at one point.

Price, who is two years younger than Greinke, was 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA, 2.78 FIP and 1.08 WHIP. He made 21 starts with the Detroit Tigers and 11 starts with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Price appeared in four postseason games (three starts), finishing 1-2 with a 6.17 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 23 strikeouts to three walks in 23.1 innings.

Greinke was 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over two National League Division Series starts. He allowed three runs on six hits in 6.2 innings and suffered the loss as the New York Mets eliminated the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said pitching is a point of focus this winter, though didn’t offer any specifics or an update on negotiations with Greinke.