Top free agent pitcher Zack Greinke is expected to sign with a team in the next 48 hours, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are seen as front-runners to land Greinke, per a separate report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 1, 2015
Greinke, 32, is the most established pitcher remaining on the market with the Boston Red Sox signing David Price to a record-setting seven-year, $217 million contract, as previously reported by The Inquisitr. However, as Rosenthal mentioned, the average annual salary on Price’s deal may be eclipsed by Greinke’s payday, despite Greinke’s contract being shorter in terms of years.
Bowden wrote that Greinke is expected to sign a six-year deal worth $32 million per year, making it a $192 million total investment. While Price does have the choice to opt-out of his contract after three years, he will make at least $30 million each season.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN broke down the financial details of Price’s contract.
David Price’s annual salaries: 30, 30, 30, 31, 32, 32. 32. No deferred money in deal. Opt out after 3 yrs #redsox
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 1, 2015
Price wouldn’t start earning $32 million a season until his fifth season with Boston, which would make Greinke the highest-earning pitcher in baseball until 2020. The potential AAV on Greinke’s new contract would also eclipse his possibly soon-to-be former teammate Clayton Kershaw — who signed a seven-year, $215 million deal with the Dodgers prior to the 2014 season, via ESPN. Kershaw’s AAV is $30.7 million.
Inflation may be a reason why Greinke will be a richer man, but his on-field performance in 2015 is also a factor. Last season, Greinke went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA — the ninth lowest ERA posted by a starter over a full season since 1920 — in 222-and-two-third innings.
That performance was good enough to earn a second place finish for the NL Cy Young award. If not for Chicago Cubs phenom Jake Arrieta’s historic second half, Greinke likely would’ve won his second Cy Young Award.
In late September, Greinke spoke to reporters and compared his 2015 season to his 2009 AL Cy Young award winning year for the Kansas City Royals.
“This is the most consistent I’ve ever been. That year I went through a rough month, kind of changed things and gave up six runs a couple of games in a row. That hasn’t happened yet this year.”
Since 2012, Greinke has been a member of the Dodgers, compiling a 51-15 record with a 2.33 ERA in 602-and-tw0-third innings. He’s made two of his three career All-Star teams in Los Angeles and — by many accounts — he is “loved” in the clubhouse and the feeling is mutual. There have been some rumblings that Greinke is not a fan of talented but troubled outfielder Yasiel Puig, as profiled by Yahoo Sports.
As for the Giants, the team’s rotation is filled with question marks past stud left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Veteran Tim Hudson has retired, and fan-favorite Tim Lincecum is nursing injuries and not expected to return. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain are the only two established names behind Bumgarner but carry a glut of injury concerns.
Since 2012, Peavy hasn’t made 32 starts in a season, and Cain’s last full season came in 2013. Therefore, upgrading the starting rotation is a must for the Giants, and it’s obvious Greinke is the guy the want.
It may be a couple of days before Greinke’s destination is announced, but the deciding factor will likely be money. In a 2013 interview with CBS Sports, Greinke admitted that the reason he spurned the Texas Rangers to sign with the Dodgers was money, and this offseason appears to be a similar case.
“It’s obviously the No. 1 thing. I could play for the worst team if they paid the most…. If the last-place team offers $200 million and the first-place team offers $10, I’m going to go for the $200-million no matter what team it was.”
[Image by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]