It's not always about the money, but it's usually about the money.
Once a player leaves the cocoon of the team that signed him and explores free agency, he tends to make decisions based on a bottom line. Most people recognize this. Very few players admit to it. Zack Greinke is one of the few.
After his December introduction at Dodger Stadium, Greinke told a group of reporters that picking the Dodgers over the Texas Rangers came down to money in the end. The Dodgers signed him for seven years and $147 million. Greinke elaborated on his thinking in an interview with CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman recently.
"I could play for the worst team if they paid the most," Greinke said. "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."
Greinke also told Heyman he made the Rangers an offer before ultimately signing with the Dodgers. Usually, a player and his agent wait for the team to make the first move and then try to negotiate up. Presumably, the Rangers didn't meet Greinke's number by his deadline.
If you're a Dodgers fan, you could feel offended that a marquee player didn't pick your team because of A) it's tradition, B) it's location or C) its great fans. You could also choose to live in the real world, where you recognize players are very, very well compensated and, like most of us, gravitate to the places that make them the most well-compensated. You could also choose to acknowledge that the team you root for has been on a wild spending spree for about a year, so money isn't something to fret about.
Greinke's agent, Casey Close, also represents Clayton Kershaw, who is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season. It worked out pretty well for Greinke to explore free agency, but other pitchers have elected to sign early and stay at home. Felix Hernandez agreed this month to stay in Seattle for $175 million over seven years. Jered Weaver will be an Angel through 2016 while earning $85 million.
Those guys each stayed with the team that signed them. Greinke didn't have that option because the Kansas City Royals had already traded him to Milwaukee before he reached free agency. Kershaw's not talking about his feelings on free agency this spring, but you can bet that, like Greinke, he's not willing to pitch for $10, no matter how appealing the team is.