On Friday, pitcher Zack Greinke shocked the baseball world by signing a six-year, $206 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Greinke opted out of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but many believed he would re-sign with L.A. for a lot more money as C.C. Sabathia did with the Yankees a few years back. While the San Francisco Giants were in the running few thought they would succeed in signing him.
But Arizona came out of nowhere. True, they did offer Johnny Cueto $120 million to become the ace of their staff (which he turned down). But there’s a quite a difference between offering $120 and $206 million. No one thought Arizona would spend big.
While his contract is not the richest in MLB history, Greinke’s annual salary is now MLB’s highest at $34.4 million eclipsing that of Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera and newly minted Boston Red Sox ace David Price at $31 million apiece.
Although Greinke is 32, he is pitching the best baseball of his career. In 2015, he went 19-3 with an NL league leading 1.66 ERA and finished runner up to Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs in NL Cy Young balloting. Since 2009 (when he won the AL Cy Young with the Kansas City Royals), Greinke has won at least 15 games in six of his last seven seasons. If Greinke wins 15 or more games in five of the next six seasons and the D’Backs win a NL pennant then it is money well invested.
Let me put it another way. I think the D’Backs paying $206 million to Greinke is a sounder investment than the Giants paying $90 to Jeff Samardzija (over five years). While Samardzija has great stuff and is a strikeout pitcher, he has only one winning season in his eight year big league career and that was when he was working as a reliever in 2011. I can understand the D’Backs paying $206 million to a pitcher who had a 1.66 ERA this year. I can’t understand the Giants paying $90 million to a pitcher who had an ERA of 4.96 in 2015 while leading the AL in issuing hits and earned runs. True, the expectations are different. Greinke will be the D’Backs ace while Samardzija would be the Giants’ number two starter behind Madison Bumgarner. Still, given that the Giants were pursuing Greinke, settling for Samardzija is a quite a come down.
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