Is it possible for something to be both “under the radar” and “controversial” simultaneously? If it is/files/includes/,.css I feel like that’s how the opt-out in Zack Greinke‘s contract has been received — not enough people are talking about it/files/includes/,.css and those that are seem to be up in arms about it.
It’s a big deal/files/includes/,.css though/files/includes/,.css that Greinke can opt out after 2015 if he so chooses. Ken Rosenthal wonders why the Dodgers acquiesced to this:
You might ask/files/includes/,.css why the heck did the Dodgers agree to the opt-out? Such clauses never work to a club’s benefit. When a pitcher does well/files/includes/,.css he wields his leverage. When a pitcher struggles — or gets hurt — he sticks the club for the rest of the tab.
Well/files/includes/,.css Greinke initially wanted a seven-year deal/files/includes/,.css according to a source. He also wanted a no-trade clause. The Dodgers didn’t want to go seven years. Their club president/files/includes/,.css Stan Kasten/files/includes/,.css does not award no-trade clauses. So/files/includes/,.css the opt-out was something of a compromise — as was another provision that allows Greinke a separate opt-out at the end of any year in which he is traded.
So it seems this was the hold-up/files/includes/,.css much more so than suggestions that Greinke’s wife preferred Texas or any such thing. The Dodgers didn’t want to give the seventh year or the no-trade clause/files/includes/,.css and this was their solution.
Rosenthal argues (and many fans would agree) that an opt-out is poor for the team/files/includes/,.css but I’m actually pretty thrilled with it/files/includes/,.css especially if a seventh year and a full no-trade were the other options. Remember/files/includes/,.css no team actually wants to give a pitcher six or seven years; you just have to if you hope to ever sign anyone good. Let me ask you this — if you had the option to sign Greinke for his age 29-31 seasons for three years and $76 million/files/includes/,.css you’d have taken that/files/includes/,.css right? And it’s not a stretch to imagine that some segment of fans would have preferred that to the 6/$147 he actually got/files/includes/,.css I assume.
Look at it this way — four options for how this turns out:
Greinke pitches well/files/includes/,.css and he stays to collect his full contract. Great! He’s been productive and so you don’t mind paying for him; in this scenario he likes the organization so much that he decides he doesn’t need to go through another stressful round of free agency.
Greinke pitches poorly / is injured/files/includes/,.css and he stays to collect his full contract. Sucks! But the opt-out doesn’t make it suck any more than it would have if he just had a straight six-deal. Actually/files/includes/,.css it makes it better/files/includes/,.css because now you’re not on the hook for year seven too and you can trade him if you like.
Greinke pitches well/files/includes/,.css and opts out. Fine! You’ve received three quality years of pitching/files/includes/,.css and while losing him opens up a giant hole in the rotation/files/includes/,.css you’re not obligated to spend $71m on his age 32-34 seasons if you don’t want to.
Greinke pitches poorly / is injured/files/includes/,.css and opts out. Hooray! This would never happen/files/includes/,.css of course/files/includes/,.css but if he hasn’t been earning the contract you’re more than thrilled to be rid of the back half of it.
So where’s the downside there? I’m really finding it hard to see one. Better/files/includes/,.css we don’t have to try to guess/files/includes/,.css because there’s been three pretty prominent cases of the opt-out being in play over the last few seasons that we can use for comparison.
J.D. Drew. Though Drew was and remains a pariah among many Dodger fans for his perceived “lack of heart” or whatever you want to call it/files/includes/,.css he was very productive in his two years as a Dodger in 2005-06/files/includes/,.css hitting .284/.399/.505 while missing time only after having his wrist shattered by an A.J. Burnett fastball/files/includes/,.css hardly an injury that could be played through. After two years of his 5/$55m contract/files/includes/,.css he skipped the remaining 3/$33m coming to him in order to sign a 5/$70m deal with Boston/files/includes/,.css clearly the right move for him. Drew was productive for the first three years of his Boston contract before tailing off over the final two.
While those three years may have been nice to have had in Los Angeles/files/includes/,.css the Dodgers did get the age-29 & 30 seasons of an injury-prone player for a mere $22m. Hard to argue that.
Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez famously opted out of the final 3/$91m of his contract in the middle of Game 4 of the 2007 World Series/files/includes/,.css a move that earned him and Scott Boras eternal scorn. At the time/files/includes/,.css he was coming off a monstrous AL MVP age-31 season that ranks among the best of his career/files/includes/,.css so his decision to leave was obvious. At the time/files/includes/,.css Jon Heyman reported was that he would sign back with the Yankees for five or six years for about $30m annually; we now know that he signed for a ludicrous 10 years and $275m that was roundly panned at the time and looks even worse today/files/includes/,.css now that after years of injury and declining performance he still has $114m coming to him.
The verdict here is not that the opt-out hurt the Yankees/files/includes/,.css but that their ensuing decision to give him a foolish contract did. In the five years since opting out/files/includes/,.css Rodriguez has hit an excellent .282/.370/.503. If his deal had been five or six years/files/includes/,.css it’d have been a big win for the Yankees/files/includes/,.css so they have no one to blame but themselves on this one. And by “they”/files/includes/,.css I mean owner Hank Steinbrenner/files/includes/,.css who reportedly signed the deal over GM Brian Cashman’s objections.
CC Sabathia. Sabathia signed a 7/$161m deal with the Yankees heading into his age-28 season in 2009/files/includes/,.css and after 2011 — and three top-five finishes in the Cy Young balloting — he gained the ability to opt out after 2011 and forego his remaining 4/$92m. Just before the deadline to do so/files/includes/,.css he stayed with the Yankees in exchange for an additional year that turned his 4/$92m into 5/$122m; taking the entire value of the deal into account/files/includes/,.css it’s 8/$182m.
In this case/files/includes/,.css the opt-out probably did hurt the Yankees/files/includes/,.css because they’d have been thrilled to keep the remainder of his deal as it was.
Back to Greinke/files/includes/,.css it seems that the worst thing that can happen here — at least in regards to the opt-out/files/includes/,.css because if he doesn’t pitch well/files/includes/,.css the opt-out really is irrelevant — is that he pitches really well over the next three years and leaves. (Or/files/includes/,.css I suppose/files/includes/,.css that the Dodgers then foolishly extend his contract to like 2024 or something.) Either way/files/includes/,.css if it’s that or guaranteeing a seventh year or giving him a full no-trade… yeah/files/includes/,.css I’ll take the opt-out every time.