Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors: Zack Greinke Could Still Return After Opting Out, But Price Would Be Enormous

The Los Angeles Dodgers are rumored to be nearing a big decision, with get Zack Greinke opting out of his $71 million remaining deal and leading to what could be a very expensive deal.

One day after the Dodgers were eliminated in the NLDS by the New York Mets — a game in which the Mets overcame a strong effort by Greinke — the 31-year-old pitcher decided to exercise his opt-out. Greinke has three years remaining at $71 million, and league sources told CBS Sports he could get at least $125 million for a new five-year deal, with a contract in the neighborhood of $150 million a more likely option.

Rumors around the Los Angeles Dodgers indicate that Zack Greinke could be open to coming back, but the price will be very high to a team already dedicating $200 million to Clayton Kershaw. League sources don’t believe Greinke will be able to crack $200 million, as he would be in his late 30s by the time the contract ends, but contracts for aces like Greinke tend to end up higher than many people expect.

The Los Angeles Dodgers would have some big competition. A talent like Greinke doesn’t become a free agent all that often, and there could be as many as 10 teams in the hunt. The candidates at this point appear to be the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Braves, and Giants.

Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors: Zack Greinke Could Still Return After Opting Out, But Price Would Be Enormous

The Texas Rangers may be a front runner. They nearly signed Greinke the last time he hit the market and are likely losing free agent Yovani Gallardo.

Whatever happens, it will be a difficult decision for the Los Angeles Dodgers. If they were to re-sign Zack Greinke, it would mean sinking close to half a billion dollars into the front end of their rotation, which is thin beyond the two Cy Young candidates. But losing Greinke would give away one of the best producers the team has seen in quite a long time. Greinke was 19-3 this season with a 1.55 ERA.

There could be some advantages for the Dodgers in keeping Greinke, NBC Sports reporter Craig Calcaterra noted.

“One has to assume, however, that the Dodgers are the favorites. Greinke, according to [CBS Sports reporter Jon Heyman], likes Los Angeles and enjoyed this season and the NL West parks are a pretty good place for any pitcher. Financially speaking, the Dodgers payroll, while high, will not be significantly higher on a per annum basis if they sign Greinke. They’re already committing $23 million a year to him, after all.”

The Dodgers also have a strong farm system and a number of top prospects ready to come on board soon, giving them a greater window than teams like the Kansas City Royals. Greinke has even acknowledged the depth of the Dodgers.

“It’s got to be the best franchise in the game, I would think,” Greinke said. “They’re in a great situation.”

He added that the Dodgers front office has done a good job building a team that works well together, even comparing them to the Cardinals, who are often held up as the MLB’s model franchise.

“There wasn’t any drama compared to the past couple years,” he said. “Everyone got along pretty well together. It was just a really deep team. You always give credit to the Cardinals — if there was someone who got hurt, there was going to be someone to take his place. That’s kind of the feeling I had with our team this year.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers rumors regarding Zack Greinke could still take a bit longer to clarify. There are reports that the team could fire manager Don Mattingly, which would likely create a bit of turmoil and could make the roster a bit longer to shake out.

[Picture by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]