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Dodgers mailbag: Would you rather pay the price for Zack Greinke or give up prospects for Chris Sale?

Zack Greinke, left; Chris Sale
(Matt York, Todd Warshaw / Associated Press)

The Dodgers are 56-44. That translates to a 91-win pace, and as the Giants face-planted to start the second half, the National League West looks like it is back in play. A pair of blown saves by Kenley Jansen cost L.A. on this nine-game road trip, but the offense is clicking for the first time in a long while this season.

Of course, there is always plenty to worry and wonder about. You can ask me questions on Twitter @McCulloughTimes. Let’s do this.


What a great question!

Let’s stipulate that I am answering this question for the Dodgers, not the 29 other teams. The Dodgers can afford to pay a player $30 million a season. Some teams cannot (or, at least, their ownership tells them they cannot).

So: Zack Greinke at the huge salary or Chris Sale minus the prospects?

First, let’s determine which pitcher is actually better. This is a quick-and-dirty analysis of each man across the past three seasons.

GREINKE SINCE 2014

INNINGS: 534.1

ERA: 2.46

FIP: 2.99

ERA+: 152

K-to-BB: 4.79

fWAR: 12.5

bWAR: 16.2

SALE SINCE 2014

INNINGS: 515.2

ERA: 2.93

FIP: 2.93

ERA+: 133

K-to-BB: 5.55

fWAR: 14.2

bWAR: 12.5.

Nothing shocking here. Both are very good. Greinke has thrown more innings and allowed fewer runs. Sale has better peripheral statistics, which would suggest a better future, and pitches in a softer run-scoring environment in the American League. Sale is 27, and owed $12 million in 2017 plus team options worth a combined $25.5 million in 2018 and 2019. Greinke is 32, and owed $172 million from 2017 to 2021.

All things being equal, Sale is the obvious choice. But all things are not equal. You have to factor in the prospects. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, the Dodgers could acquire Sale without giving up Corey Seager. The package would still likely include Julio Urias, plus at least three premium assets, like Cody Bellinger or Alex Verdugo or Jose De Leon or Grant Holmes. It would hurt, and it should, because Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Given the prospect haul, if I were running the Dodgers, I would probably prefer Greinke in this scenario. It’s not an ideal situation. The salary on Greinke is exorbitant, and there’s reasons to worry the contract could be an albatross. But the prospect cost to acquire Sale is staggering, and may be more debilitating to the organization than the addition of one bad contract.


This is all basically moot, since it sounds like the Cubs are close to wrapping up a deal with the Yankees, but here goes:

The main thing was Aroldis Chapman has already served his suspension for violating the league’s policy on domestic violence. When the Dodgers’ trade with Cincinnati broke down, the Dodgers did not know the scope of Chapman’s issues or how Major League Baseball would respond. There was some speculation around the league that Chapman might be suspended for half a season or longer.

The team has more information now. That does not mean, necessarily, that they will acquire Chapman. But they have a better understanding of his situation than they did when the original deal foundered. 


Rival scouts do not consider Brock Stewart an elite talent, at least not the caliber of a guy like Chris Archer. I think Jose De Leon might get a shot in the coming weeks, if Clayton Kershaw remains on the shelf and the front office cannot find a legitimate upgrade on the trade market. There are not many top starters available.


Probably, but I doubt they worry about it too much. The Cuban market is incredibly unpredictable, and the team showed restraint in its recent pursuit of Yulieski Gourriel. 


I don’t know.


This question was sent after the Dodgers scored seven runs Saturday against St. Louis. I am not sure if it was meant in jest or not.


I think they should solely target players I have enjoyed covering, so: Wade Davis, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Vernon Wells, Ike Davis, Bobby Parnell, Lyle Overbay, Chris Stewart, Edinson Volquez and Chris Young should all be at the top of the list.


I covered Joaquin Arias in 2010, when the Mets traded for him. He carried himself with a sense of melancholy. He rarely interacted with his teammates, and he often huddled in the dugout before games so he could talk on the phone. I felt bad for him.

Then he went to San Francisco, and played a role on two championship teams!

So with Arias, anything is possible.

As for Julio Urias: I expect his starts will improve in the coming years, when he is no longer a teenager.


Mike Trout.


Does this mean Puig will show up at a political convention in 2028 and refuse to play the hits?


I’m going to skip that show. The tickets were expensive, and I do not enjoy stadium rock shows. I did purchase the three reworked demos, because I’m incapable of not handing money to Brand New. The reworked version of “Missing You” is my pick for the song of the summer. I’m sure no one else agrees with me.


Coors Light.

Or Grain Belt, when I’m in Minneapolis.

Or Presidente, when I’m in Miami.


I do not support an official line of demarcation between the two shows, and I’m amazed how WWE books these guys to look like dorks. They give silly interviews like this*. They wear those goofy T-shirts that make them look like summer campers. I’m sure they’ll book a lame inter-promotional match at Survivor Series between the two brands. I can see it now, with Karl Anderson wearing his bright red shirt and wondering when his contract runs out so he can go back to Japan**.

*Honestly, this Cesaro promo boggles the mind. He is saying he doesn’t want to be on “Raw,” because “Smackdown” is the show about in-ring entertainment. I have no idea how this lukewarm worked shoot helps his character. Whatever, there’s a reason I only watch the highlights on YouTube and not the actual weekly programming.

**Anderson looked pretty good in the six-man tag at Battleground. The match was slow for a while, but I enjoyed the spot-fest at the end.

The last image from Battleground last night sums up the silliness of the brand split. Dean Ambrose won the title. The announcers offered insipid commentary about how important this victory was for “Smackdown,” which is a television show, and not for Ambrose, who is a human being the audience might actually be invested in. It was insufferable, even by the low standards of the WWE commentary team.

At last, the locker room emptied, with all the other “Smackdown” wrestlers flooding the ring to celebrate Ambrose’s achievement. Then came the kicker: The Usos lifted Ambrose on their shoulders. Yes, the cousins of Roman Reigns – the same cousins who feuded with him against A.J. Styles, Gallows and Anderson only a few months ago – were applauding Ambrose’s victory over a member of their own family.

As for Finn Balor, I’m sure they will put him in a program with Chris Jericho or something that puts us all to sleep. 

Wrestling is so stupid. I don’t know why I still watch.


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