Heading into the 2015 offseason the Los Angeles Dodgers figured to face a significant decision as it pertained to Zack Greinke.
Coming off the best season of his 12-year career, Greinke unsurprisingly opted out of the three years and $71 million remaining on his contract. He then declined the Dodgers’ one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer, as was expected.
Re-signing Greinke was said to be the Dodgers’ top priority. However, once the dust settled he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks on a six-year, $206.5 million contract.
Greinke joining the Diamondbacks came as a shock given the Dodgers were believed to have been in a bidding war with the San Francisco Giants for multiple days.
Ultimately, Los Angeles stopped short of tacking on a sixth year to a new contract for Greinke. According to ESPN’s Mark Saxon, Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said the club made an exception to offering Greinke a contract:
“We evaluate stuff very carefully, from performance to contracts to physical conditions to the arc of performance over various ages. We value productivity levels in free-agent contracts. All things factored in, we could not get to a point we felt hamstrung down the road. Having said that, we went beyond what we felt was strictly prudent because it was Zack, who we valued so highly. But we were prepared to move on once it went another direction.”
The contract Greinke signed with the Diamondbacks includes over $60 million in deferred salaries, but set the Major League Baseball record for highest annual average at $34.42 million.
In not re-signing Greinke the Dodgers essentially preserved some level of flexibility in terms of payroll. However, there’s also a significant hole in their rotation behind Clayton Kershaw.
With all of the elite starting pitchers no longer on the market, the Dodgers’ best chances at pairing another ace with Kershaw will need to come via a trade.