The Los Angeles Dodgers continue to spend freely. Their newest addition is 29-year-old Zack Greinke, the biggest pitching prize of the free agent market this offseason. The two parties have come to an agreement that will last for six years and pay out a total of $147 million, and while Greinke will not be the beneficiary of a no-trade clause, it’s certain that receiving the largest contract given out to a right-handed pitcher should lessen the sting of that omission considerably.
Since 2008, Greinke has not failed to reach at least 4.0 WAR (per FanGraphs) in any given season, topping out at a ridiculous 9.3 WAR in his career year of 2009 — a season that saw him win his first and only Cy Young to date — while still with Kansas City.
Few players can be said to be worth this kind of a financial commitment, but Greinke is good enough to give the Dodgers a return on their investment and then some. He won’t turn 30 until after the 2013 season, so the Dodgers will be covering his age 29-34 years over the course of this contract, and it’s not at all unreasonable to suggest his best years may still be ahead of him.
The former sixth overall draft pick is a truly rare talent, one who features great control (2.3 BB/9) as well as the ability to overpower hitters and miss bats (8.0 K/9), and he’s been very durable as well — he’s logged at least 200 innings in four of the last five seasons. These are all desirable attributes for a front-line starting pitcher, something Greinke will have to continue to be to justify his new salary.
While there have been plenty of instances in which a team has gotten burned for signing a starting pitcher to a long-term deal, there are absolutely no warning signs in this particular case to indicate Greinke will not be worth it. He’s as gifted and reliable as any pitcher in the game, and barring the well known anxiety-related issues (nothing medication can’t solve), one would be hard-pressed to dig up any dirt on him at all.
Greinke will join a potentially loaded rotation featuring names such as Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, and Chad Billingsley, although a trade may well be on the horizon following this move. As the Dodgers continue to aggressively overhaul their roster, this move has to be considered one that increases their chances of fending off the World Champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West in 2013.