UPDATE (Feb. 2, 12:45 p.m. PT): The Los Angeles Dodgers announced the hires of Raul Ibañez and Greg Maddux as special assistants to team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
With an eye on setting themselves up for success in years to come, the Los Angeles Dodgers were at somewhat of a crossroads with Zack Greinke this offseason.
Greinke, who was coming off the best season of his career, opted out of the remaining three years and $71 million on his contract with the Dodgers.
He declined the club’s qualifying offer and earlier this month signed a six-year, $206.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The deal includes over $60 million in deferred salaries, but set a Major League Baseball record for highest annual average at $34.42 million.
While such a contract for a 32-year-old pitcher is viewed as one with plenty of risk, there’s a widespread expectation Greinke is the exception to the rule.
With a strong cerebral approach and ability to work both corners of a strike zone, Greinke has often been compared to Greg Maddux. The Hall of Famer recently gave his take on that comparison, via Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:
“I hadn’t heard that before,” Maddux said. “Maybe I should be compared to Zack. He’s definitely a guy who’s fun to watch the way he goes about pitching. He’s one of the best.”
Maddux is said to join the Dodgers organization as a special assistant. He spent parts of two seasons with the club (2006, 2008), going 8-7 with 3.94 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 19 starts.
Greinke enters next year in his age-32 season. At that same age in 1998, Maddux, who celebrates a birthday in April compared to Greinke in October, went 18-9 with an MLB-best 2.22 ERA, was named to the National League All-Star team and won a Gold Glove.
Greinke is coming off a season in which he finished 19-3, led the Majors with a 1.66 ERA and won a Gold Glove Award. Given that Maddux managed to pitch as a 42 year old into his 23rd season, Greinke has plenty to accomplish in order to fully justify the comparison.