The idea of a Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation led by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke for years to come was laid to rest Friday as Greinke agreed to a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The reported six-year, $206.5 million contract, which is pending a physical, translates to an average annual value of $34.42 million.
That surpasses the $31 million average David Price received in his six-year, $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, and sets a Major League Baseball record.
The Dodgers reportedly extended Greinke a five-year contract offer at roughly $31 million per season. They weren’t believed to be comfortable tacking on a sixth year for the 32 year old.
“We made a very strong offer to retain Zack but clearly he found a deal that fit better for him and his family,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a statement.
“We are now hard at work on our alternatives. We wish Zack, Emily and Bode all the best going forward.”
Prominent free-agent alternatives include Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir, Hisashi Iwakuma and Mike Leake. Jeff Samardzija was included in that group, but the San Francisco Giants announced Saturday he agreed to a five-year contract pending a physical.
Of the aforementioned starting pitchers, signing Iwakuma would require the Dodgers to forfeit their first pick in the 2016 MLB Draft as they both declined qualifying offers prior to hitting free agency. The same held true had Los Angeles signed Samardzija.
Los Angeles will receive a compensatory pick for losing Greinke to the Diamondbacks. Coming off a season in which he led the Majors with a 1.66 ERA, 225 ERA+ and 0.84 WHIP, Greinke opted out of the three years and $71 million remaining on his contract with the Dodgers.
While addressing their starting-pitching need through free agency may be the path of least resistance, it would be remiss to rule out trades given how creative the Dodgers front office has been under Friedman.