The Dodgers Can Afford Zack Greinke, and They’ll Get Him

After a bit of a holiday lull, the offseason is about to get very real, very soon. The winter meetings (next week in Nashville) and the days leading up to them are always among the most interesting of the year, and so we should be in for quite a bit of fun in the very near future.

That’s true for all teams, but it’s especially so for the Dodgers. They didn’t make the playoffs in 2012, and that was of course disappointing, as it always is. But as we’ve discussed, it also didn’t seem like that big of a deal. 2012 was never about winning a championship, it was about moving on from the McCourt era to whatever brighter future awaited us. The Guggenheim group brought money & dignity to an organization which sorely needed both, yet despite their big, flashy moves, there’s only so much you can do to improve a team full of Riveras, Uribes, & Loneys when you don’t even take over until a month into the season. The main goal was to start to win back the respect of the fans and rebuild the long-neglected areas of the business – like the stadium & international scouting – and so far, their tenure has been a roaring success. Playoffs or not, 2012 was a good year to be a Dodger fan. (And if reports about the new television deal prove to be true, this year is the gift that keeps on giving.)

It’s easy to see that the same tolerance may not be in place in 2013, because this team is built to win, and win quickly. They’ll have full seasons from Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, & (hopefully) Carl Crawford, plus whatever else Ned Colletti is able to accomplish in his first offseason with Guggenheim money. Ownership is going to want to see a return on their investment, especially as they need to get the ratings to justify that massive television deal. Heading into the season, this roster is likely to be the most talented in the NL West on paper, and so contention is expected, not just hoped for.

Looks good in blue, doesn’t he? (via Keith Allison on Flickr)

But it’s hard to say right now that this is a championship-worthy team, not with one bad elbow and four past-their-prime guys behind Clayton Kershaw in the rotation. Pitching wins in October, and just about every other team hoping to get a ring can say they have at least two plus-plus starters; in some cases, namely in Philadelphia & Washington, there’s three.

The Dodgers can’t say that. And so more than ever, I’m convinced that the Dodgers are going to be the ones to sign Zack Greinke this winter.

I say that partially because people I trust say that the Dodgers are working hard to make it happen, but also because the pieces just fall into place so perfectly. Greinke’s obviously the best pitcher on the market, as we looked into last month, because he’s young, durable, often dominant, and won’t cost a draft pick. He’s the only true ace available, and since I don’t believe the Dodgers really have the chips needed to get James Shields – no, Dee Gordon & Chris Reed aren’t going to get it done – he’s the only option to get this roster where it needs to be. As much as I’m intrigued by Hyun-jin Ryu and like Anibal Sanchez, they don’t give you the 1A ace you need. Greinke does.

Simply because he’s the clear best pitcher in a flush market, Greinke’s going to get paid and paid well, but even then the market works in favor of the Dodgers. Not that they really need to worry about anyone being able to outbid them at this point, but traditional big spenders in New York, Boston, & Philadelphia are unlikely to be in on Greinke, nor is Atlanta, who offers a good fit but can’t play in this financial stratosphere. Those teams being out certainly won’t make Greinke cheap, but it should keep him south of seven years and $150m, thresholds I would prefer not to cross.

In fact, there really seems to be only two obvious bidders for Greinke besides the Dodgers – the Angels, who traded for him last summer, and the Rangers, who tried to. For the Angels, it’s actually a bit of a desperate situation that they do retain him, and that’s what presents the biggest threat to the Dodgers. After saying goodbye to Dan Haren & Ervin Santana, they have only a rehabbing C.J. Wilson and three rotation holes behind Jered Weaver, and arguably the only thing more foolish than giving Albert Pujols $240m is not surrounding him with the pitching he needs to make having him worth it. Texas would love to take Greinke away from their division rival, but with Josh Hamilton & Mike Napoli both likely to leave, they may have bigger problems in fixing an offense that may only have Ian Kinsler & Adrian Beltre standing in the way of Ron Washington attempting to play Michael Young at all nine spots.

Because of their depth, the Dodgers may not need Greinke quite as desperately as the Angels, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a piece they don’t badly need. It’s not just for this year, either, and that’s important. I’ve long felt one of the most underrated aspects of the Adrian Gonzalez deal was the simple fact that there was going to be just about no one on the market to replace James Loney this winter – other than Napoli, the best first basemen are possibly Carlos Pena or Loney himself – and as teams lock up star players more and more often, there’s not a lot of quality pitching coming available. Looking ahead to 2014, and assuming that Shields’ option is picked up and R.A. Dickey is signed, the best starters look to be… Roy Halladay, at 37? Matt Garza? Josh Johnson, maybe, if reports of a deal with Toronto fall through?

It’s ugly out there, and that means it’s not going to get any easier to find pitching. The Dodgers need Greinke not only for 2013, but for every year after. They need him because he’s a perfect fit in terms of age and skill. They need him because he’s the rare ace pitcher on the right side of 30 available for nothing but money, with no one else like him coming free over the next year or two. They need him because the hundreds of millions they spent elsewhere might not matter if they can’t improve the rotation. They need him because they need to, for once, best the Angels in the Southern California public relations games.

They need him. They can obviously afford him, even if it’s 6/$132m (my best guess as to what he’ll get, perhaps with an option for another year). More than ever, I’m optimistic that they’ll have him.

******

As for the batch of minor leaguers the Dodgers signed over the holiday weekend – newcomers RHP Juan Abreu, RHP Hector Correa, RHP Gregory Infante, LHP Kelvin de la Cruz, LHP Thomas Melgarejo, C Wilkin Castillo, SS Miguel Rojas and returnees SS Osvaldo Martinez, 3B C.J. Retherford & OF Alfredo Silverio – there’s not a whole lot to see here. All are failed prospects of some sort, some will get a token appearance in major league camp, and the only one you really need to know is former top prospect Silverio, who of course lost his entire 2012 to a car wreck and may not be at full speed in 2013. Along with infielder Nick Evans, who also signed up last week, that makes eleven NRIs to big-league camp thus far, a list which is kept on the right side of our depth chart here.

475 comments
EEstaris
EEstaris

I am thinking with all the talk about the Dodgers and Greinke, negotiations between both sides should intensify at the Winter Meetings next week.

 

I think Greinke gets signed next week and the Dodgers also sign Ryu shortly before the Dec. 10 deadline.

 

After that, all that will be left is dealing Harang and/or Capuano once all of the big name free agent SPs get signed.

AdrianGarcia
AdrianGarcia

Honestly, I am not expecting a lot from Anibal Sanchez, he has never exactly set the league on fire. He had a good postseason, granted, however he did it against the struggling Yankees, and the ice cold Giants who never really scored much in that series, they just out pitched the Tigers, however he did shut down the hot A's. Talent? Of course he does, however, his era has never dipped below 3.50 (besides his 17 start rookie year). I say that we can get that production with Ryu Hyun Jin, this guy is a left handed pitcher who can locate, and has dominated guys his whole life. Since Sanchez is projected  a C.J. Wilson type deal, Ryu will be at a discount actually (4 years 60 million for Ryu as opposed to 5 years 90 million for Greinke), and the Korean leftie is younger than Sanchez. Maybe Sanchez will perform better than Ryu, sure, but it is  worth it to sign Greinke and then Ryu.

1. Kershaw

2. Greinke

3. Beckett

4. Ryu (Sanchez projects as a #2 starter)

5. Billingsley

EEstaris
EEstaris

I have read Greinke wants 6 yrs and $150 mill, but I don't see his market going there.

 

No way do the Angels or Rangers get to that level.

 

IMO, Greinke will end up with 5 yrs and $120 mill with a vesting option for a 6th yr.

 

Dodgers just have to wait out the best offer put out by the Angels and match it. I think the Angels could go 5 years, but I doubt they would go $120 mill and I doubt they would include an option.

 

Reality is that the Dodgers need Greinke as the No.2 if they want to really contend for a World Series title.

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

i am firmly in the pro-grinky camp, but i don't see anything wrong with concern over the fact that he missed time for anxiety once upon a time. i should think that a fat contract in hollywoodland would come with some pressure. just a thing to consider. 

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

Nolan Ryan is coming out with a cook book, apparently this is the manual Ryu has been looking at #LostInTranslation

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

you guys are jerks. i opened the page and you guys are talking grinky like it's already done. i had to head over to mlbtr real fast and...nutihin. 

 

I AM MAD YOU. 

dustybakersoldtoothpick
dustybakersoldtoothpick

Best case scenario is Billingsley and Lilly are fine and we sign both Greinke and Ryu, making for a crowded staff of Kershey, Greinke, Beckett, Billingsley, Llly, Capuano, Ryu and Harang. 

 

They'd have the possibility of having a  weird 4 lefty pitching staff of Kershaw Capuano, Lilly and Ryu.  Wonder the last time that's ever happened ever on a mlb team?   I'd be surprised if it ever happened where all 4 lefties made at least 20 starts.

 

Then we watch and wait for the "market" to develop for our reasonably signed castoffs--not that it will be much but the dodgers might get lucky.  Harang is just average signed to an average deal.  Capuano is slightly better, paid slightly better, but has durability concerns.  Billingsley would be intriguing, he's youngish, talented, but the injury and the lack of not quite putting his talent into the results you'd expect from him, all detract from his value <i>imo</i>.

 

I like this logjam because it gives the dodgers so much flexibility and options, just I don't have the mind to imagine enough of the truly entertaining ones.

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

Greinke didnt do great for the Angels, if you believe a SSS and advanced stats

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

Handing out a huge long term contract to a pitcher is scary but its not like we are giving Barry Zito big money.  Most agreed Zito was really overrated and not an ace. Greinke (head case or no) is one of the best pitchers out there now and HASNT HIT 30 YET!!

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

Also I rather like the idea of the Dodgers getting in on that juicy tv money before the bubble bursts

dustybakersoldtoothpick
dustybakersoldtoothpick

I didn't want Greinke, mostly because of the mental issues, but Ive been sort of persuaded to not be so anti-Greinke as I was before by reading this piece.  Kershaw is still going to be the ace of the staff.  Greinke won't have as much pressure on him on a very solid rotation.  Hopefully the infield defense doesn't put pressure on him to feel the need to strike everyone out or be perfect.

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

So how do contract comparisons work? You could compare Greinke to Hamels, but Hamels is an elite lefty which is rare and usually costs more right? Does that factor in at all?  I am assuming not as we are gonna Yankee the shit outta this deal

DBrim
DBrim moderator

@AdrianGarcia 1. You have no idea how Ryu will pitch, and scouts are talking down about him. 2. Sanchez isn't getting CJ Wilson numbers, don't listen to agents or players this time of year.

capnsparrow
capnsparrow

 @Disgruntled Goat  Whatever you do.................................

 

 

 

 

 

Don't introduce him to Brad Penny or Derek Lowe!

capnsparrow
capnsparrow

 @VietnamDodger I went to the big A to see him pitch VND. This guy is the real deal his heater rises before it gets to the plate and hammers the mitt he throws mid 90's effortlessly. He is definitely the one guy we could get that i like to be a Dodger.

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

based on WAR he shouldnt be getting paid more than $20 a year, and if he wants stability of long term id knock it to $15-17

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

 @EephusBlue I think everyone killed that contract the day it was signed, right? I don't really remember.

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

 @EephusBlue very difficult to compare, because it also depends on what teams are in the market (no Yanks/Sox drives prices down) but then also that the TV money is pushing everything back up..

DINGERS!
DINGERS!

The Trayvon special? Lol@Mike Petriello @dustybakersoldtoothpick

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

if he pulls a Blanton ima be not happy

dustybakersoldtoothpick
dustybakersoldtoothpick

 @Omerwell there were a couple of non-deals that turned out well for the dodgers like Ismael Valdes and Chan Ho Park who went on to get paid and turned into pumpkin pitchers.

DINGERS!
DINGERS!

@VietnamDodger I am actually counting on the Angels and Rangers to try to low ball him.

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

 @Mike Petriello Yeah. I remember the giants announced the years and money and I laughed. That was a perfect example of Boras gonna Boras. He hyped up Zito perfectly. At best i remember reading scouts saw Zito as a solid #3-4.  He was pretty lights out when he had his fastball but damn when that thing died he went to shit.

dustybakersoldtoothpick
dustybakersoldtoothpick

 @Mike Petriello  @Omer oh wow, yeah.  Forgot him (and his monster contract).  Dodgers did give the pile of money to the most talented arm out of the three they had at the time; things just did not work out in their favor unfortunately.

DINGERS!
DINGERS!

He will only be paid what Walter can stand. Hows THAT for market analysis. Pretty sure the other owners hate him now.@EephusBlue @Mike Petriello @VietnamDodger

dustybakersoldtoothpick
dustybakersoldtoothpick

 @Mike Petriello that's a more than fair enough defense.  I still worry a little given how much/how long his contract will be.  But then again I'd be worrying about giving a lot of years to almost every pitcher hypothetically.

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

 @dustybakersoldtoothpick even then, I don't buy into that. He had some issues at 22, and has had not a single problem over the last 7 years. He also performed just fine for the Angels, and they're not exactly located in Idaho.