In trading away Dee Gordon and Matt Kemp, and not re-signing Hanley Ramirez, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ remake of their roster has received fanfare and criticism.
With Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins now patrolling the middle infield, the general consensus is the Dodgers have upgraded defensively. However, during his appearance at the Dodgers FanFest on Saturday, Zack Greinke largely downplayed the impact of having a stronger glove at shortstop.
“How much better is Kershaw going to be with a different shortstop?” Greinke said. “He had a 1.7 ERA, so it couldn’t have hurt him too much. If you’re pitching good and doing your job, you’re still going to get outs.” Greinke went on to acknowledge a strong defense is certainly helpful, but that the pitcher is the most important player on defense.
As for whether or not the 2015 Dodgers will be improved than the 94-win Dodgers of 2014, Greinke wasn’t ready to say the team had improved. “In the playoffs last year, I thought our team was the best team in baseball,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t prove it. But I thought we were the best team in baseball. So, to say we’re better than that, I don’t know if you could say that.”
Heading into the 2015 season, Greinke faces some uncertainty with respect to his contract moving forward. He holds an opt-out clause after the year, though he wasn’t prepared to discuss his intentions.
Greinke enters his third season with the Dodgers and is coming off a year in which he made 32 starts despite battling an issue in his right elbow during August. Greinke expressed little concern over the injury, but should it be a problem again in 2015, it may influence Greinke not to opt out.
Greinke will earn $25 million in 2015 and if he doesn’t opt out, he’ll receive $26 million in 2016, $25 million in 2017, and $26 million in 2018 — his age 34 season. During the 2014 All-Star break, Greinke said he would monitor the free agencies of Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.
Lester signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, and Scherzer signed with the Nationals for seven years and $210 million, though he’ll be paid the full amount over 14 years.