Just a couple of days after hearing that the Texas Rangers were in the lead for the services of Zack Greinke, the Los Angeles Dodgers vaulted to the top of the heap and signed Greinke to a six-year contract worth $147 million.
At $147 million, Greinke's contract is the second largest ever for a pitcher behind the $161 million contract signed by CC Sabathia with the New York Yankees after the 2008 season. Greinke's contract also compares quite favorably to the six year, $144 million contract extension that Cole Hamels signed with the Philadelphia Phillies this past summer. Greinke's contract also blows away Matt Cain's five year, $112.5 million extension signed this spring for the largest ever signed by a right-hander.
The 29-year old Greinke, who won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award with the Kansas City Royals, spent 2012 with the Brewers and Angels. He was dealt from Milwaukee to Anaheim in July, and despite the Angels' best efforts to re-sign him, they appeared to bow out of the bidding earlier this week to leave the door open for either their Southern California rivals from the Chavez Ravine or their divisional rivals in Arlington.
Six years actually seems like a reasonable length for this deal, paying for the age 29-34 seasons of a pitcher who hasn't had any arm problems in recent years of his career. At his peak, Greinke is a top of the rotation ace that can dominate lineups with ease. Moving into a pitcher's park in Dodger Stadium will do nothing but help him out in 2013 and beyond.
Greinke will join Clayton Kershaw to form the best duo of young pitchers in all of baseball. Kershaw won the 2011 NL Cy Young award, and will be just 25 in June. If the Dodgers can get him locked up long-term (currently under team control through 2014), the Dodgers won't have to worry about finding an ace for the rest of the decade, and that's a situation I'm sure any team in the league would envy.
Greinke's signing with the Dodgers also seemingly opens the door for Josh Hamilton to re-sign with the Rangers, freeing up the money earmarked for Greinke and letting it flow towards Hamilton. Once Greinke signs, I'd imagine that there would be a domino effect of the rest of the free agents on the market, creating a very eventful holiday season in MLB front offices.