One Los Angeles team joins the other in being made to look bad by Donald Zackary Greinke, as the 32-year-old made the stunning decision last night to sign a six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers, playing with Monopoly money, saw Greinke predictably take advantage of the third-year opt-out in the six-year contract they gave him in December 2012 — but instead of agreeing to a new landmark deal to stay, the righthander signed with a division rival for money LA surely had the wherewithal to pay.
Back when the Dodgers sign Greinke to that six-year deal in December 2012, he was coming off a failed pennant race with the Angels, who had picked him up that July from Milwaukee by stripping its farm system (which would be ranked dead last by Baseball America going into 2013) of Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg, and Ariel Pena. Greinke went 6-2, 3.53 in 13 starts for the Angels, but they finished fourth in the Wild Card race behind Texas and Baltimore.
Because Greinke had played less than a full season with the Angels, they were ineligible to recoup draft pick compensation for him that winter when he left for the Dodgers for six years and $147 million — $76 million of which was payable over the three years before the opt-out.
The Angels opted instead, three days after Greinke signed with the Dodgers, to give Josh Hamilton five years and $125 million.
They got no post-season out of the Greinke trade, no draft pick when he left, and lost Segura from a system that was already barren.
They lost Greinke and added Hamilton, and when Hamilton’s current deal is done they will have paid him $42 million to play and $68 million to leave.
Now, to be fair, Texas had its chances to land Greinke (a player I’ve been trying for almost eight years to spitball-acquire and have probably written more about over the years than any non-Ranger), as chronicled by Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) at the end of that off-season when Greinke switched LA employers. He’s been my favorite pitcher in baseball for a long time, and I’m sad he hasn’t worn the Rangers uniform.
I’d be a lot more sad about Greinke if I were an Angels or Dodgers fan.
Arizona is set to pay more than $34 million per year for Greinke’s next six seasons.
Texas is effectively on the hook for a little more than $12 million per year for the next three Cole Hamels seasons (before a fourth season that will pay him $20-24 million unless he doesn’t hit specified workload numbers in 2017-18 and the Rangers choose instead to pay a $6 million buyout), when taking into account the cash subsidy that the Phillies sent Texas and the Matt Harrison contract they took off the Rangers’ books.
Imagine what Hamels, who is Greinke’s age, would get today on the open market. He wouldn’t get Greinke’s $34 million AAV, or David Price’s $31 million AAV, but he’d probably land more than Jordan Zimmermann’s $22 million AAV.
As a free agent today, Hamels would probably be worth twice annually what Texas is committed to pay him for the three-and-a-half guaranteed seasons they acquired.
It’s another indication of how forward-thinking the Rangers’ Hamels trade was. By accelerating their 2015-16 off-season work, they not only made a July trade without which it’s fair to assume they wouldn’t have been a playoff team in 2015, but also acquired a pitcher whose trade value (and presumably whose number of suitors) would only have increased once Price and then Greinke raised the market bar even further.
(As for what this means for Yu Darvish’s market two winters from now, it probably increases the likelihood that the Dodgers will go heavy on him, but otherwise it’s no surprise to see the AAV projections ticking up.)
The Diamondbacks forfeit their first-round pick (13th overall) for signing Greinke, and the Cubs forfeit theirs (28th) for (thankfully) giving John Lackey two years and $32 million. The Arizona forfeiture moves the Rangers’ first-round slot up from 23 to 22, and chances are it will move up even higher as the winter unfolds — assuming they don’t forfeit the pick themselves by signing a free agent who declined his 2015 club’s qualifying offer.
(Boston doesn’t lose a pick because Price, with Toronto less than a full season, didn’t get a qualifying offer, and Detroit forefeited its second-rounder for signing Zimmermann, not its first, because the Tigers have a top 10 pick in June.)
In a slightly less earth-shaking move, yesterday the Diamondbacks hired MLB Network Radio’s Mike Ferrin (who wrote one of the two outstanding forewords for the 2016 Newberg Report Bound Edition, along with Jeff Banister) to be their new pre- and postgame radio broadcast host and secondary play-by-play announcer.
Two really great acquisitions by Arizona on Friday, one of which is an absolute gut-punch for the one Los Angeles team that the game’s best pitcher hadn’t already helped to gut-punch over the last three years.