There’s quite a stir going on about the Zack Greinke news. Enough to write a flurry of articles. The whole thing is understandable. Dodger fans have been waiting since the final out of game five of the NLDS to find out if their second ace in the rotation would show some loyalty to the organization and remain a Dodger.
The fact that he opted to go elsewhere really shouldn’t have been a surprise. Greinke answered three years ago that he signed with the Dodgers over Texas because they offered the most money. Is there any reason to believe he changed his tune?
So as upsetting as it will be to see Greinke wearing the duds of a division rival, it’s not time to go into panic mode. Had the Dodgers signed Greinke to that contract, they’d be crossing their fingers that he is a freak of nature with the ability to pitch as one of the top five pitchers in the game up until age 38. How many guys do that?
They’d be on the hook for $34 million per season. About a third of the current payroll of the World Series Champion Royals.
They’d be monitoring that right elbow of his constantly. The one that has come up tender and required rest at each spring training, with the addition of a “lubricating” injection to get him going for the season. How long can he continue that routine?
As Greinke ages, there’ll be concern that the remaining millions of dollars committed to him will go to waste in future seasons. This is a player with 2,094 innings of wear and tear on his arm. A pitcher that hasn’t had Tommy John surgery, and yet, he’s had elbow ailments.
We can’t argue with Zack Greinke’s success as a Dodger. 51-15 over three seasons. Two gold gloves, one silver slugger, two all star appearances, one ERA title and a runner up to a Cy Young award. Greinke has more than earned his money over the last three years and it’s safe to say that the Dodgers were able to take full advantage of having him during the best three years of his career (with the possible exception of his 2009 Cy Young Award winning campaign in Kansas City).
It would have been nice to hang on to this gem and Dodger management reached beyond their comfort zone to keep him. By that I refer to a 5 year offer reported to be in the neighborhood of $155 million dollars that they made. That deal would have locked up Grinke until he is 37 years of age at $31 million per year.
Arizona’s $206 million/6 year deal blew the Dodgers out of the water. Good for them. They can pay it. The 2015 Diamondbacks finished 79-83, and had a major league low payroll of $54 million. The addition of Greinke may transform them into the favorite in the NL West. Of course, the same was said about the San Diego Padres last winter and look how that worked out.
Greinke’s salary alone for 2016 makes up the equivalent of 65% of Arizona’s entire team payroll from 2015, so they certainly could afford taking on some salary. But at what point is a salary for a starting pitcher too much? Where do you draw the line on huge contracts? And for a player that steps between the lines only once every five days to boot.
Let me add a few more points related to the Dodgers and not Greinke and the D-Backs.
It is important to put things into perspective. The Dodger farm system is loaded with some fine pithing prospects. If the front office continues to stock the starting staff with free agents, these kids won’t develop. There comes a time that they must be tested at the major league level. Do we really want to trade a player like Pedro Martinez away again? By that I’m referring to young Julio Urias.
None of the prospects are near-Greinkesque right now, but how do we expect them to even approach that level if they aren’t given the chance to break in at the Major League level? Urias, De Leon, Lee, Weiland, Frias, Holmes, Stripling, Cotton. All prospects at various levels that have potential to make it to the big club. Urias, deemed to have No. 1 starter capability.
Add to that there is an amazing 28 year old pitcher out of Japan by the name of Kenta Maeda that may be a perfect fit for the rotation. Touted by many scouts to be better than any free agent pitcher that remains available. Do we really want to commit $150 million to someone like Cueto?
On last point. It should be noted that California teams are at a distinct disadvantage when attempting to sign free agents due to the state’s high income tax rate of nearly 14%. Had the Dodgers signed Greinke to that $206 million dollar deal that Arizona just completed, he would have been forced to pay $18 million more in California income taxes than he would in Arizona. That my friends, is substantial.
For that reason, Greinke’s a Snake. And how appropriate that he is a “snake,” which defined as such:
Snake [sneyk] – noun
“a treacherous person; an insiduos enemy. Compare “snake in the grass.”
The whole situation has the makings of a great rivalry to be rekindled between Arizona and Los Angeles.
Bring it on.