Heading into Spring Training, much of the focus is on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation that features new faces in Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, and Mike Bolsinger and Juan Nicasio waiting in the wings.
However, there’s also the underlying case of the opt-out clause in Zack Greinke’s contract. Greinke signed a six-year deal with the Dodgers in December of 2012 and since that point, has formed one of the best starting duos in baseball alongside Clayton Kershaw.
During the Dodgers’ third-annual FanFest in January, Greinke raised some eyebrows when he pumped the brakes on the notion that the Dodgers improved during the offseason — citing his belief they were the best team in baseball last season.
Although Greinke wasn’t ready to proclaim the new-look Dodgers as being a better team than they were in 2014, he spoke highly of the franchise from top to bottom.
Greinke also said he wasn’t ready to discuss his contract status, but would likely have an update once Spring Training rolled around. That began Thursday and Greinke kept true to his word, saying he wouldn’t make a decision on potentially opting out until after the season, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Zack Greinke said he won't decide on opt out until season is over.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 19, 2015
While Greinke will hold off on making a decision, he added he’s willing to hold talks on a contract extension, via J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News Group:
Greinke did say he's open to negotiating a contract extension before the season ends, but team hasn't talked to him about it yet.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) February 19, 2015
Late last year, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team wouldn’t use the winter to extend Greinke, perhaps leery of the elbow trouble the right-hander battled in 2014. Since joining the Dodgers, Greinke is 32-12 with a 2.68 ERA, and 355 strikeouts in 60 starts (380.0 innings).
Should Greinke opt out after the 2015 season, he would leave a guaranteed $77 million on the table and be looking to sign a new deal at 32 years old. For comparison, 31-year-old Jon Lester received a six-year, $155 million contract from the Chicago Cubs; Max Scherzer, 30, signed a seven-year, $210 million deal (to be paid in full over 14 years); and James Shields, 33, signed for four years and $75 million with the San Diego Padres.
At the 2014 All-Star Game, Greinke said he would monitor Lester’s and Scherzer’s situation, and suggested he would take into account their new contracts when deciding on his opt-out clause. Although both pitchers signed lucrative deals this past offseason, it should be noted Greinke may face a drastically more-competitive market.
It’s plausible Johnny Cueto, David Price, Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann could be among the pitchers available as free agents.
Zack Greinke Isn’t Sure If Dodgers Have Improved