Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, reminding you that there are just 151 days remaining until opening day.
Greinke opts out
To the surprise of no one, pitcher Zack Greinke opted out of his contract on Wednesday, giving up $77 million for the three years remaining on the contract he signed in 2013 for a chance at even more money in free agency. The question is, will the Dodgers want to re-sign him, and how much are they willing to spend?
Greinke turned 32 last month and will probably find some team that will offer him five or six years at about $30 million per year. He has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since coming to the Dodgers (more on that later), but will the Dodgers want to give him $180 million over six years? It might be worth it next season and the season after, but will a 37-year-old Greinke be worth $30 million?
This past season, the Dodgers had a payroll of $310 million, but about $95 million of that was paid to players who were no longer with the team (guys like Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon). They won't have to pay most of those players next season, so there’s $90 million in savings that can applied toward Greinke's new contract. Plus, they were already going to be paying Greinke $77 million over the next three years anyway if he hadn’t opted out. So, I would take all that money ($167 million) and offer Greinke five years, $160 million.
And then I would sign either David Price or Johnny Cueto. That would give the Dodgers a rotation of:
Price or Cueto
Hyun-jin Ryu when healthy; if not, a Brett Anderson-type of relatively low-cost free agent.
Maybe that is wishful thinking. But the Dodgers obviously have money to spend, so why not go for it? If they sign Greinke and don’t want to pay huge money for Price or Cueto, then go after a guy like Yovani Gallardo or Scott Kazmir. Because if you are going to reap the financial whirlwind of that TV contract with Time Warner, but that same contract prevents most fans from watching the games, the least you can do is spend some of that money to put the best team possible on the field.
But is Greinke really worth all that money? Well, take a look at his numbers since joining the Dodgers and how they compare to other pitchers with at least 400 innings pitched in that time frame:
1. Kershaw, 1.92
2. Greinke, 2.30
3. Jake Arrieta, Cubs, 2.52
4. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, 2.61
5. Cueto, 2.81
6. Felix Hernandez, Mariners, 2.86
7. Sonny Gray, A's, 2.88
8. Madison Bumgarner, Giants, 2.90
9. Chris Sale, White Sox, 2.92
10. Max Scherzer, Tigers/Nationals, 2.94
1. Greinke, .773 (51-15)
2. Kershaw, .736 (53-19)
3. Scherzer, .726 (53-20)
4. Arrieta, .712 (37-15)
5. Wainwright, .683 (41-19)
1. Kershaw, 772
2. Scherzer, 768
3. Sale, 708
4. Hernandez, 655
5. Bumgarner, 652
13. Greinke, 555
1. Kershaw, 0.886
2. Arrieta, 0.983
3. Scherzer, 1.021
4. Greinke, 1.027
5. Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners, 1.035
What do the fans think?
We put up a poll at latimes.com asking readers what kind of contract the Dodgers should offer Greinke. At the time I write this, here are the results:
No more than five years: 49.9%
Whatever he wants: 22.8%
No more than three years: 18.7%
I covered the top candidates for manager in the Oct. 30 newsletter and since then, two intriguing names have joined the list: Former Dodgers Dave Roberts and Kirk Gibson.
Roberts, 43, was the bench coach for the San Diego Padres for the last two seasons and was let go at the same time the Padres fired Bud Black as manager. He is an excellent candidate, and I would tell you why but Bill Plaschke wrote about it so wonderfully here that I really have nothing to add.
Gibson, of course, is one of the most beloved players in Dodgers history, because of some home run he apparently hit in 1988. I don’t remember much about it, something to do with Game 1, bad leg, homer. Something like that. If he brought the same type of leadership and take-no-prisoners attitude he did in 1988, when he basically willed the Dodgers to the title, then he would be a great choice. But he has Parkinson’s disease. I’m not a doctor (and I don’t even play one on TV), but it seems to me that the stress of managing can’t be good for someone with Parkinson’s. Plus, fans in Arizona, where Gibson managed from 2010 to 2014, winning manager of the year honors in 2011, had some of the same complaints about him that Dodgers fans had about Don Mattingly. It seems like his time to be Dodgers manager may have passed.
All that being said, Gabe Kapler is still the favorite to become the new manager, with Roberts a close second. If anyone other than one of those two gets the job, it would be very surprising.
By the way, you can scratch Dusty Baker and Davey Lopes off your list of candidates. Baker was hired Wednesday to manage the Washington Nationals, and one of his first moves was the hire Lopes as his first base coach.
So, who would you hire to manage the Dodgers? Vote in our poll and let us know.
The cost of doing business
The Dodgers can also better afford Greinke and Price or Cueto because they announced Wednesday that they were raising season-ticket prices next season. The Dodgers cut the price of some club-level seats but raised every other ticket category, generally in the range of 10% to 25%. Tickets that sold for $5 to $120 this year will go for $8 to $150 next year.
Because nothing says “We love the fans” more than raising prices to watch a team that has been so disappointing. And the best way to win back the fans angered by this is to sign Greinke, sign Price or Cueto, improve the bullpen, get one more bat for the outfield, and generally show you have learned the lessons of last season.
In the next newsletter I will continue with Part 2 of the series where I take a look at the Dodgers’ potential roster for next year.
Remember former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta? He works for the Mets now, and Bill Shaikin caught up with him during the World Series. You can read all about it here.
Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.