Zack Greinke Signs with the Arizona Diamondbacks


Like many people expected, highly sought-after free agent pitcher Zack Greinke signed with a team in the National League West. However, instead of the team in question being the San Francisco Giants or the Los Angeles Dodgers, it is the Arizona Diamondbacks who will be paying Greinke for the next six years.

In a shocking turn of events, former Dodgers’ co-ace Greinke will join a Diamondbacks’ rotation that is sparse, to say the least. Chase Anderson, Rubby De La Rosa, and Patrick Corbin, while all respectable pitchers in their own right, are hardly Clayton Kershaw. It is likely that the Diamondbacks enticed Greinke with their young talent, talent that includes bona fide MVP contender Paul Goldschmidt who is still only 28, along with Yasmany Tomas, and first-time All-Star A.J. Pollock.  However it is still a considerable shock that that would lure Greinke away from a big market and the promise of immediate playoff contention. 

More from San Francisco Giants

On November 29th, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Diamondbacks had extended a six-year, $120 million contract to Johnny Cueto, which he declined to look for better options on the free agent market. Greinke, at age 32, is a gamble, particularly for a team that still might have a ways to go before they can be considered a serious playoff threat. It seems as though after losing out on Cueto they resorted to their plan B, and one that would keep a top-line starter away from the division-rival Dodgers as well.

Even up until December 1st, the race for Greinke’s services was still expected to be a two-horse race, with the big market Giants and Dodgers duking it out for the Cy Young runner-up.

That all changed on December 4th, when it emerged that the Diamondbacks were serious in their pursuit of an ace and were willing to pony up the dollars to do so. Though the details are still emerging, sources have said that the deal will be for around $206.5 million, which according to Rosenthal will break the record for average annual value just set by David Price‘s $31 million per year by more than $3 million.

This signing has the potential to change the landscape of the NL West, preventing it from yet again being a two-team race between the Giants and Dodgers for the division crown. According to Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks are also interested in Mike Leake, who the Giants have also discussed as an option for improving their rotation depth.

For a relatively small-market team it is shocking to see the Diamondbacks shelling out this much cash for starting pitchers, though it does show their commitment to building a contending team, and one that will have a chance to be a major player in the division. They are making a statement, albeit an expensive one that they hope will pay off, despite risking a record sum on an aging pitcher who will be in his age 39 season by the end of a contract that will not include an opt-out clause.

One thing that will never be disputed, however, is Greinke’s effectiveness over the last few seasons. His 1.66 ERA was the lowest in MLB last season and it never reached above 2 at any point throughout the year. His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total was 9.3 last year, while all Diamondbacks pitchers combined for a WAR of 7.9, and he earned 19 wins, second-most in the National League.

The deal is still pending a physical, but if all goes according to plan, the National League West will look a little bit different in the wake of this signing. The Giants’ race to try to sign another top-line starter will continue, perhaps increasing in fervor in the wake of this move. Even though Greinke and Price are off the market, the free agent class is still deep, including Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Leake, Hisashi Iwakuma, Yovani Gallardo, Scott Kazmir, and Ian Kennedy.

Next: San Francisco Giants: Saying Farewell to Nori Aoki

It is incredible to think that two of the premiere names of the offseason are signed before the beginning of the Winter Meetings, but that is how things have unfolded this year. The Meetings will begin on Monday, and the Giants are expected to be serious players in negotiations as they look to improve their outfield and starting rotation with young arms to spare in trades. While they missed out on Greinke, that might not be a bad thing, considering the cost and length of term that they would have had to dole out.

The Hot Stove keeps heating up, and things are starting to get interesting.