The signing: Proving once again that nobody really knows what will happen during the Hot Stove League, sources confirm Zack Greinke has agreed to a six-year deal with an NL West team pending a physical -- except it's the Arizona Diamondbacks and not the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants. That sixth year -- pushing the total contract up to $206 million -- may have pushed Greinke to the Diamondbacks.
Maybe this isn't as big a shocker as it seems. After all, in his previous run in free agency three years ago, Greinke admitted that money is "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."
We can presume that the Diamondbacks outbid the Giants and Dodgers and that Greinke will top the $31 million average annual value that Miguel Cabrera and David Price will earn on their contracts, making Greinke the highest-paid player in the game on a per-season basis. And he's a 32-year-old pitcher.
On Thursday, the D-backs unveiled their futuristic new uniforms. Now they get Greinke. It's the best two days for the Diamondbacks since Games 6 and 7 of the 2001 World Series.
The reason: The Diamondbacks need starting pitching. They ranked 11th in the NL in rotation ERA in 2015 and 14th in innings pitched. Rubby De La Rosa, with 188 2/3 innings, was the only starter to qualify for the ERA title, and he posted a 4.67 ERA. Now the Diamondbacks get an ace, and a guy who has added value beyond his pitching ability as one of the best fielding pitchers in the game and maybe the best hitting pitcher in the game. Johnny Cueto reportedly turned down $120 million to head to the desert. Now Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart get a pitcher who may be the better health risk, even if it did cost them a lot more money. Obviously, it's not without risk: A six-year deal would take Greinke through his age-37 season, but he's also a guy without a serious arm injury in his career.
The impact: Big. Not only because the Diamondbacks get a Cy Young runner-up, but because they stole him away from their top division rivals. The projected Arizona rotation:
1. Zack Greinke
3. Robbie Ray
5. Rubby De La Rosa
Ray and Corbin (returning from Tommy John surgery) were solid in partial seasons. If those two can extend that work over 30 to 32 starts, that's a solid top three. Meanwhile, the Dodgers are suddenly scrambling in a rotation that has Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson and a bunch of question marks, while the Giants were jilted for a second straight year by a big-name pitcher (Jon Lester last season) and now may turn to Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake.
This signing doesn't put the Diamondbacks on the level of the Dodgers and Giants just yet. It's still early in the offseason and you know the Dodgers eventually will spend some money somewhere, although you wonder if this means they'll look to trade Yasiel Puig and go after Jason Heyward.
Arizona finished 79-83 a season ago, and Greinke obviously is a good bet to regress from his 1.66 ERA. Still, this easily could be a five- or six-win upgrade over the pitchers Greinke is displacing (at least for 2016). And it certainly makes the D-backs players in the NL West and wild-card race, especially if they can add another veteran pitcher -- will they also be in on Japanese star Kenta Maeda? -- and add a reliever or two and maybe get better production from second base.
But maybe the best part of this, unless you're a Dodgers fan: A big star didn't go to one of the biggest markets. And that's good for the game.