Zack Greinke, welcome to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers made their first big free agent splash of the Guggenheim era by locking the Cy Young winner to a reported six-year, $147 million contract. Greinke will complement Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett in the 2013 rotation, giving the Boys in Blue one of the best top-to-bottom teams in the league.
Greinke split time last season with Milwaukee and Anaheim, posting an ERA of 3.48 and a K/BB ratio of 3.70 between the two clubs. Because he was traded, the Dodgers will not have to sacrifice a draft pick for signing him. However, the deal includes an out-clause after three years that would allow Greinke to become a free agent in 2016.
He does carry a few question marks, including his history with anxiety issues, but with his strikeout-heavy style of pitching and workhorse history (at least 200 innings in four of the last five seasons), Greinke should thrive in the pitcher-friendly confines of Dodger Stadium, PETCO Park and AT&T Park.
Greinke is an immediate improvement to the rotation as well. Between injuries to Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsly and the inconsistent performances of Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, the pitching staff had to rely on untested arms like Stephen Fife and Nathan Eovaldi to provide quality innings. Though the pitching was not a weak spot for the 2012 Dodgers by any means (LA’s 3.35 ERA was third-best in the NL), any time you can add a pitcher of Greinke’s caliber, you’ve given your stable an immediate shot in the arm.
The signing is a big move for Guggenheim Baseball Management, who entered the offseason with few glaring holes to fill and even fewer All-Star free agents to fill them. Money is obviously not an issue for the group that spent more than $2 billion to buy the team in the first place, and with many players locked into long-term deals already, the size of this contract should not hamper the budget that badly.
Greinke joins Brandon League as the Dodgers’ two big signings of the offseason, and they still have to figure out third base, a lefty reliever, a fourth outfielder, a utility infielder and maybe another starter to boot. Good thing winter hasn’t even started yet.