Zack Greinke said that when it came down to choosing the Dodgers over other teams pursuing him, it was all about the money.
The new Dodgers right-hander said that he was leaning toward joining the Texas Rangers before taking the Dodgers’ offer of $147 million over six years.
“The negotiations changed,” he said.
Was it the money that put the Dodgers over the top?
Greinke smiled and said: “That’s what it comes down to at the end.”
A no-nonsense type on the mound and usually reticent with the media, the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner seemed happy to be regaling inquisitors with truthful tales of negotiations.
Even though he now has the highest average salary for a pitcher on a multi-year deal, he knows his place in the record books won’t last long.
“The money’s getting higher and higher,” said the 29-year-old Florida native, “and that’s just how baseball is. As soon as a couple of other guys sign, I’ll be passed.”
And it may be by a Dodger teammate.
General manager Ned Colletti said that the Dodgers have done what they
set out to do, and now they’re done with the nearly $600 million
shopping spree and will concentrate on trying to make trades to shore up the roster.
“Unless something that’s too good to pass up jumps out at us, we’re pretty much where we’re going to be budgetarily,” Colletti said.
But he didn’t rule out signing Clayton Kershaw to an extension this offseason, which will likely turn Greinke into a prophet.
It’s already being speculated that the Dodgers’ left-handed ace and 2011 Cy Young winner will get a contract with an average annual value of $30 million per year. Greinke’s AAV is $24.5 million, with a player opt-out clause after the third season. Greinke and Kershaw are both represented by agent Casey Close, who will see his own AAV jump toward the skies.
Colletti says that the Guggenheim Baseball Group felt Greinke was the best free-agent fit for the team, and that the Dodgers were going to do everything possible to get him on the club.
“We looked at our staff and felt it was a good staff, but we needed someone who would fit in right alongside Clayton Kershaw,” Colletti said. “Those types of pitchers are very, very rare, and one name kept coming back to us: Zack Greinke.
“It was very important for us to let Zack know that we’re about making this team as great as we can make it, and the part that he would play in it would be a major, major part.”
The more time he spent with him and his wife Emily, the more Colletti became assured that Zack was the right man.
“I knew we had to figure out a way to get him on this team,” he said.
It took $147 million, definitely. But the Dodgers’ loaded roster was a huge selling point as well.
Greinke said he made a list of the Dodgers’ projected starting offense, and as he thought about how he could get each individual out, he realized that very few had any major weaknesses.
“Before I did that,” he said, “I didn’t realize how good they were. This offense is as deep as any team.”
And Greinke teaming with Kershaw and a healthy Chad Billingsley makes the pitching staff pretty deep, too.