Greinke is the biggest fish in the starting pitcher pond. Image: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Pitching Market Undefined Until Zack Greinke Signs

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a desire to add a top-flight starting pitcher and the deepest of pockets to use in doing so. It would stand to reason that if they were interested in the biggest name on the market, that of right hander Zack Greinke, the Dodgers would have to be considered the favorites.

According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, they are.

According to an industry insider, the Dodgers are the favorites to wind up with top free agent starter Zack Greinke, with the Angels and Rangers on the outside looking in.

Earlier this month, we had heard that the Dodgers weren’t serious players for Greinke, and that their top targets were Hiroki Kuroda and Anibal Sanchez. If Silverman’s source is to be believed, the Dodgers have shifted their philosophy. Perhaps, and this is just me speculating here, the thinking was that if Sanchez was going to ask for $15 million per year at six or seven years, they may be smarter in offering a shorter contract to Greinke, but at a significantly higher average annual value.

The Dodgers are known to want to re-unite with Kuroda, whose story seems to change weekly. Originally we heard he only wanted to pitch in New York or he was going back to Japan, which is what he had said about LA in 2011 before signing with the Yankees. Then we heard he was open to the Dodgers or Yankees, now the word is he prefers to pitch in Southern California, which brings the Angels into play. The one constant in this discussion is that Boston, who is known to be pursuing the right hander, doesn’t seem to be on Kuroda’s radar at all.

If things continue the way they have for Kuroda, that almost has to make the Red Sox the favorites to sign him, right?

But seriously, if the Dodgers do wind up with the top starting pitcher on the market, the Angels are in serious trouble. They jettisoned both Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in order to clear enough payroll space to keep Greinke. Sure, that money could be used to sign someone like Kuroda or Sanchez instead, but either pitcher would have to feel like a let down, no matter their talent level. Jerry Dipoto entered the off-season with one goal and that was to re-sign Greinke. To lose him would bade enough, to lose him to the Dodgers, who are re-staking their claim to the precious LA market they ceded to the Angels during the McCourt era, would be extra hard to swallow.

When the Greinke deal gets done, no matter what team it’s with, the market for the rest of the starters (Ryan Dempster, Brandon McCarthy, etc.) will be better defined. So too will the trade markets for guys like James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Garza, and however many of the Dodgers’ spare parts get tossed onto the market.

The Dodgers are the real wild card here. In the eyes of many pundits, Greinke was going back to Anaheim, Sanchez to Detroit, and Kuroda possibly to the Dodgers. That would have left the third-tier guys to be divvied up between the Yankees, Rangers, and Red Sox; all of which need at least one starter.

In a game of musical chairs, there are fewer front-end starters available than teams that desire them. When the seats begin to be filled, clubs had better act quickly and aggressively or be left without a chair.

Tags: Anibal Sanchez Hiroki Kuroda Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Dodgers MLB Rumors Zack Greinke

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