Five years and one day ago, the Dodgers signed Zack Greinke.
The contract guaranteed him the most money of any right-handed pitcher. Ever.
Guggenheim Baseball Management was seven months into its ownership of the Dodgers. It already had committed close to $300 million to get Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez in a trade and $85 million to sign Andre Ethier to a contract extension.
Greinke was guaranteed $147 million, although he opted out of the contract three years later. That was the last time the Dodgers committed more than $100 million to any player from outside the organization.
That was five years ago. They did commit $215 million to Clayton Kershaw, the last time they committed more than $100 million to any player, period. That was three years ago.
That brings us to Saturday, the day the New York Yankees reportedly have agreed to trade for Giancarlo Stanton. The National League’s most valuable player desperately wanted to come home and play for the Dodgers.
What’s not to like about Stanton? Good guy, wants to win, could hit the baseball over the Dodger Stadium pavilion roof every night in batting practice.
But while commentators drone on about the Dodgers’ payroll, their nine-figure spending ended with the Kershaw deal, their commitment to player development — and a smaller payroll — fully underway. Stanton has $295 million remaining on a contract that extends through age 37.
Guggenheim is well aware of what happened to the Philadelphia Phillies, and to the previous generation of the Yankees: too many guys got too old and too expensive, all at the same time.
The Athletic and MLB Network reported that the Yankees would assume $265 million of Stanton’s contract and the Marlins would get low-level prospects and infielder Starlin Castro, who has two years and $22 million left on his contract.
The Dodgers would not have been thrilled about $265 million, and the expensive players they might have sent to Miami — say Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy and/or Scott Kazmir — probably would not have been as easy for the Marlins to trade as Castro, who can play second base and shortstop and hit .300 with 16 home runs last season. (Gonzalez also could have vetoed a trade.)
The Dodgers could try to sign Bryce Harper next winter, who is three years younger than Stanton, but Harper might cost almost twice as much. Kershaw can opt out of his contract next winter and, assuming his back holds up, the Dodgers presumably would redo his contract.
What the Dodgers should do, really, is engage the Marlins now that Stanton is off the market.
The Marlins have shed more than $300 million this week, by dumping Stanton and Dee Gordon. New owner Derek Jeter already has been booed at a Miami Heat game.
No one is going to buy tickets to watch the Marlins next year. The Marlins ought not insult Miami by going halfway on a fire sale so that they might win 75 games.
Get on with the tank job, and this time trade the reasonably priced players for the high-quality prospects they could not get for Gordon and Stanton because they were so concerned about slashing payroll.