With Greinke Gone, Dodgers Will Look Towards Free Agents, Possible Trades
So, what now?
That’s the question many Dodgers fans find themselves asking after the starling news that Zack Greinke wouldn’t be returning to the team next year, and had signed with the rival Arizona Diamondbacks for a whopping 6yr/$206mil contract.
While the decision may have hit some fans harder than a Holly Holm roundhouse kick to the head, the Dodgers won’t have much time to dwell on the move. They will now be forced to move on and look ahead at other options. Whether it be acquiring one (or more) of the remaining free agent starting pitchers, possibly trading for one, or even looking to one of their young farm system arms, several options are still on the table for the front office.
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The question begs asking: How might the Dodgers move forward?
Replacing the league leader in ERA and the 1B to Clayton Kershaw’s 1A in the starting rotation won’t be an easy task. In fact, given who’s still available on the free agent market, it’s probably safe to say it’s not a feasible task at all. Currently, the “biggest chip” still out there is Johnny Cueto, who is coming off a World Series winning season after being acquired by the Royals mid-season.
After coming to Kansas City, Cueto struggled to find consistency, and ended the year with an 11-13 record, 3.44 ERA, 212 IP, & 176 K’s. While those 2015 numbers hardly cry out “ace” material, Cueto had been pretty good before that, posting an ERA lower than 3.0 in each of the four previous years from 2011-2014. His fantastic 2014 season ended in a 2nd place NL Cy Young finish, getting beat out only by some guy named Kershaw.
Although a solid MLB starter, I’m sure many would agree that Cueto is no Zack Greinke. Still, at 29 years old (three years younger than Greinke) he’ll certainly be looking for a sizable contract. He already reportedly turned down a 6yr/$120MM offer, and according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Cueto could be seeking a 5-6 year deal, somewhere in the neighborhood of $140-$160 million total. That’s a hefty price tag for a pitcher coming off his worst season in five years, who also had some elbow soreness.
After Cueto, the free agent market gets a lot less appealing. Not even 24 hours after Greinke signed with Arizona, the Giants struck a deal with Jeff Samardzija. That leaves pitchers like Mike Leake, Hisashi Iwakuma, Scott Kazmir, Yovani Gallardo, & Ian Kennedy still on the table.
Not exactly anyone that Dodgers fans would jump for joy over.
Perhaps the Dodgers will not go the route of free agency, and instead, look to work a trade for a starter.
They’ve already reportedly checked in on Atlanta’s Shelby Miller. Other possible trade candidates could be Padres starters James Shields and Tyson Ross. If you really like to dream big, options like Chris Sale or Sonny Gray would undoubtedly intrigue any team, although the asking price would be astronomical for both. However, the Dodgers do have the pieces to possibly make something like that work. They have one of the deepest farm systems in the league, which continues to grow with their recent international signings. If their willingness to part with Yasiel Puig grows, perhaps a package that includes him and some core prospects not named Urias or Seager could get the big return they’re looking for.
There is also a 3rd option, although it’s one that may not be ideal quite yet. As mentioned, the Dodgers farm system is ripe with prospects. Julio Urias is one of the top ranked prospects in all of baseball, but the consensus within most of the organization is that the 19 year old is still at least a year away from contributing at the major league level. Other kids, however, may be closer to getting the call. Jose De Leon had a breakout year in 2015, posting a 12.8K/per 9 inn rate in the minors. Other prospects like Zach Lee and Ross Stripling seemed to have run their course in the minor league system, and if they’re ever going to make the jump to the pros, their shot should come sooner rather than later.
Moves will be made, no doubt. Greinke’s departure has made that an absolute requirement now. So, as the Winter Meetings begin this week, staring pitching will certainly be on the Dodgers X-Mas list. They may have lost out on that one big present they really wanted, but they’ll have to make do with a collection of those smaller gifts… and also put on that fake smile when they open them up to show everyone that’s what they “really” wanted.
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As the Dodgers go into the Winter Meetings looking for the piece that “really pulls the room together” (you’re not the only one who has a Big Lebowski fetish), Dodger fans should try to understand there are plenty of options. Greinke took himself out of the equation. We’ll miss him. He gave us three great, great seasons. Good luck to him. But, I can count the number of championships we won with him using absolutely none of my appendages. If we can put together a solid rotation behind Kersh, even if it isn’t filled with $34.5M per year flash guys, we can still be more than competitive. We don’t want to be the Yankees saddled with humongous contracts and a wasted roster spot for the foreseeable future … heck we already have Carl Crawford. Let’s see what happens in Nashville.
WTF!!!! Every single “Target” is systematically being swooped up by other teams!!! Just like the August trade deadline!
Well said. Yeah we’ll definitely miss Zack but hopefully they’ll have some other options by the end of the meetings. “Its like Lenin said… you look for the person that will benefit and, uh… you know what I’m trying to say.”
Thanks for reading.
I know the sports columnists have to write “something” it is their jobs but the rumors for the last 2 years with the Friedman run FO have been wildly inaccurate. The top guys had the Dodgers possibly signing Greinke and Price! No one that talks to the press has a clue what these guys are thinking.
I think Meada the Japanese Team Carp pitcher would help as it would not cost them anything but money and he is 27 years old. The salary last year was 300 mill this year right now it is 165 mill according to the LA Times. The Dodgers have according to your article and other reports some very good arms coming up but they are supposedly 1 year away. It makes no sense to sign several guys to multi year contracts with the kids coming. Besides the kids you mentioned they also have Holmes and Cotton and also two Cubans that are well regarded. We shall see how this works out.
But I think letting Greinke go was a Huge mistake. With Kershaw and Greinke pitching the Dodgers won over 65% of their starts without them under 45% not good. We were a 2nd tier team if they were not starting.
The offense was not consistent enough to win consistently without a pitcher averaging under 2.00 ERA. Even with the huge improvement in defense.
I would have definitely loved to have Greinke back but at what cost? The contract he got from Arizona was ridiculous. While i have many criticisms about the new front office’s first year, i don’t think this one is on them. They offered him a 5 yr deal at over $30 mil a yr. I guess a few extra mil was that much more important to Zack.
Good point on Meada. I forgot to mention him in the column but he is definitely another option.
BCRobitaille In a normal situation I would agree with you. Except for a couple of factors. It is only MONEY. And because of the ridiculous TV contract they have ridiculous MONEY. And a very loyal fan base that has not had a WS win in 27 years. To rub salt in that wound is the Giants have won 3 of 5 years. They spent 300 million last year and right now are sitting at 165 they have the money. And they just very sharply raised ticket prices. They have to win. They have to win now….Or in the next couple of years or they WILL lose fan support including me and I my first Dodger game was 1958.
Also I think we will mostly all agree Zack is not a normal pitcher. He is a surgeon with as much knowledge of the strike zone and pitching as anyone since probably Maddux. I think he will probably be very good for 4-5 years. The other factor is we are now at about the peak of Kershaw’s career. Shouldn’t we do anything possible to put together a club to win now? We have the best pitcher in baseball why waste that with being bull headed. How many years BC do you see Greinke being dominant?
That is the question the money is NOT THE POINT. The Dodgers have been hosing money around in the International market because they can. Overpaying by 10 mill when you have the money they have is just not that important.
This is not a strictly baseball move that is what FriedBrains does not realize. This is a fan move and a support Kershaw’s career move. And get the fan base of of the Dodger Front Offices back move if they do not win next year.
I assure you I will be at Spring Training with the rest of pissed off Dodger Nation and giving it to Fried Brains when I see him. Unless they pull a gigantic Rabbit out of their posteriors at the meetings.