Think back to when everyone was wondering whether Zack Greinke would pull down $25 million for five or six years. Way back, like a couple of days ago.
That, of course, was before the other elite free-agent pitcher, David Price, was inked to a seven-year, $217-million deal by the Red Sox.
Now if you want to sign Greinke – and the Dodgers had better – you’re going to have to dig deeper and longer into those pockets. All despite Greinke being two years older than Price.
Signing 32-year-old pitchers to seven-year contracts is less than the ideal way for a club to go and a very long way from where team CEO Stan Kasten and President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman want to be.
Only it’s where they are with Greinke, and seemingly with little to do about it other than to sign a fat check. Or would they really rather see him lead the Giants to the National League West title? How does anyone think that would play in L.A.?
The Giants are reportedly the other finalist in signing Greinke, who last season had baseball’s lowest ERA (1.66) in 20 years and went 19-3. Both teams very much need him in their rotation, and once he’s gone, the next tier of starting pitchers is a reasonably steep drop.
The Red Sox rotation was also in dire straits, and knowing Price preferred to pitch in the National League and had a strong relationship with Joe Maddon, his former Rays manager now leading the Cubs, ESPN’s Buster Olney said they had little choice but to step up and crush all other bidders.
Which is exactly what they did, no doubt much to the Dodgers’ chagrin. If -- a very suspicious looking “if” in retrospect -- Greinke could ever have been had for five years at $25 million per, matching the Price deal could cost them an extra $92 million.
Now you can buy a lot of pitching for $92 million. Why that’s almost two Brandon McCarthys. But as Buzzie Bavasi learned a long time ago, two 8-7 pitchers do not equal one Nolan Ryan. Or two 9-2 pitchers one Greinke.
The Dodgers ran into trouble in the postseason because they had little behind Clayton Kershaw and Greinke in their rotation. And right now all they have is Kershaw, Alex Wood and Brett Anderson. They could add a Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake and it would still be a step down from having Greinke in the rotation.
Fortunately for the Young Turk front office, Greinke enjoyed his last three years with the Dodgers, aside from being Yasiel Puig’s personal bus valet. But Greinke’s keen mind understands well the economics involved and that this is his final big contract.
There will be no hometown discount. Signing Greinke is going to be costly, much more so since Price signed. And the Dodgers best do it.
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