The longer Zack Greinke remains an Arizona Diamondback, the more likely the team will be able to unload his massive contract.

Since the day he signed with Arizona before the 2016 season, that’s been the narrative cropping up anytime the D-backs find themselves in a telling slump.

Fifty games into 2019 and with the Diamondbacks sitting at .500, the Greinke trade possibilities are back on the radar.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale listed the ace as one of the 10 players who could be moved by the July 31 trade deadline, and it’s Greinke’s contract that always must begin the conversation about a potential deal.

The biggest detriment is his contract. He’s in the final three years of his original six-year, $206 million deal, paying him $31.5 million this year, $32 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021. The remaining contract is deferred by $32.5 million, but still, there are few teams willing to swallow the contract in its entirety, much less provide prized prospects to go along with the huge paycheck.

Yet, the Diamondbacks and general manager Mike Hazen could find a Greinke trade more in the realm of possibility than ever.

He’s now over the hump of the six-year, $206.5 million deal offered by the former front office guard led by Tony La Russa. By the way, Greinke is still productive as ever.

Teams are paying attention to him, Nightengale said. And because the Diamondbacks look like sellers as they continue their competitive reset, that is why Nightengale included Greinke on his list of potential trade candidates.

“The Phillies have room to spare in that payroll,” Nightengale told Doug & Wolf Thursday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “They were there specifically to watch Greinke in his last start. The Yankees are around, so teams are watching right now.

“It’s the case too where the more the Diamondbacks buy down that contract, the better the prospects there can be. If they’re willing to eat more of that thing, there’s more in return.”

Greinke, who will turn 36 years old in October, has a 2.89 ERA, 6-2 record and 0.87 WHIP so far this year.

After allowing seven earned runs on Opening Day through 3.2 innings, he’s gone at least 6.0 innings in 10 straight starts and more than 7.0 frames in six of those 10 games.

“When I’m watching him now, I almost think I’m watching (Greg) Maddux,” Nightengale said. “He’s so smart of a pitcher, so competitive just like Maddux, great athlete. This guy could play some different positions in the field if he wanted to. He doesn’t have that same fastball anymore but gets in guys’ minds and knows how to throw strikes.

“I think he’s still an elite pitcher.”