On the first day pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training this year Zack Greinke’s opt-out clause that allows for him to become a free agent after the 2015 season concludes was a talking point. The Los Angeles Dodgers decided against signing the right-hander to an extension over the winter, and Greinke said he wouldn’t decide on his course of action until the season ended.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers certainly envision themselves making a deep October run that carries over into November, that would also mean Greinke’s day of reckoning had all but arrived. In discussing Greinke’s contractual situation, one National League general manager believes the soon-to-be 32 year old is likely to field five-year contract offers and ultimately re-sign with the Dodgers, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
Greinke will be 32 when he becomes a free agent and even with a great season it doesn’t appear he will get any more than five years, according to a major league source. Five years, $150 million? “That seems to be a good starting point,” said one NL GM who predicts it could even higher. “If I were a betting man, I’d say he stays with LA. They’ve got the dough.”
Should Greinke elect to opt out, a likelihood given the financial benefit that’s expected to come with it, he would leave a guaranteed $77 million on the table over the next three years. Greinke this season is earning $23 million.
For comparison, last offseason saw 31-year-old Jon Lester receive a six-year, $155 million contract from the Chicago Cubs; Max Scherzer, at the time 30 years old, sign a seven-year, $210 million deal (to be paid in full over 14 years) with the Washington Nationals; and James Shields, 33, sign for four years and $75 million with the San Diego Padres.
Although he’ll be older than all but Shields at the time of potentially signing a new contract, Greinke has aided his causes with a dominating 2015 season. He’s 16-3 and leads the Majors with a 1.68 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. Greinke’s year has him in the thick of the conversation for the NL Cy Young, if not at the forefront of it.
However, what may impact how lucrative of a market Greinke will find in free agency is the likes of Johnny Cueto, David Price and Jordan Zimmermann will also be among the pitchers available.