Big signing for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend. They got pitcher Zack Greinke‘s autograph on a contract. As loaded as Los Angeles seems to be, as long as guys stay healthy, they should be the best team in the National League in 2013.
The Dodgers are spending money like the Yankees. Under new ownership, the team has shed the angst of the Frank McCourt years and are now moving to the high rollers table. It’s World Series or bust in LA. I’m thinking the new owners want to be the new Lakers in town. They want to be the glitzy sports entertainment go-to option. If that takes burning millions of dollars, so be it.
Plenty of personnel issues in Major League baseball are pretty fluid leading up to the Christmas shopping rush. Much of the hopes and dreams for teams and players, are up in the air. The collision of desire and affordability is happening at numerous intersections. But it has been fun to watch play out (or come to no conclusion) over the last few days.
Free agent pitcher Ryan Dempster was offered a two-year, $25-million contract by the Boston Red Sox and he turned it down. Dempster has done some very good work in his long career, but he concluded his 12-game visit to Texas last summer with a 5.09 earned run average and he is 35 years old. What does he want? A longer deal. Sounded like a good pitch to Dempster from the Red Sox to me.
The Cincinnati Reds were very active players in the off-season before the 2012 season. They don’t have many needs or holes to fill. But it was a priority to re-sign outfielder Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick, 34, accepted a two-year deal to stay put in Cincinnati. Smart move. He hit 26 home runs and knocked in 80 RBIs last year. Cincinnati needs his pop and he was wanted, liked, and will play for a contender.
Just as a reminder of how these deals often look good on paper, but don’t always play out smoothly, the name Jason Bay was in the news again, too, because he signed a contract to play for the Seattle Mariners. A few years ago, Bay was the Red Sox left-fielder. He did a good job for them. He was offered a very good contract that if anything seemed like an overpayment. But he shunned the offer, somehow coaxed even bigger bucks out of the New York Mets and pretty much watched his life fall apart. In three seasons with the Mets he was well paid, but accomplished nothing. An ant being stopped on by a Timberland boot was healthier than Bay.
Both the Rangers and the Phillies took a chance on Michael Young over the weekend, too. The Rangers took the chance that they won’t miss the seven-time All-Star (and maybe jettisoning his salary will give them enough moola to give Josh Hamilton what he wants) and the Phillies took the chance that Young will be rejuvenated in a new town, that his class and success will help infuse their disappointing bunch with fresh energy.
Greinke signed with the Dodgers for six years and $147 million. That’s outrageous, of course, but people who have money who don’t mind flaunting it have to find ways to spend it.
The 29-year-old right-hander has bounced around a lot lately, even as he has carried the reputation of being one of the best pitchers in the game. He won a Cy Young award for the Kansas City Royals, but Greinke has never won 20 games in a season. The six years should provide stability. The money should provide security. But Greinke better win big in LA. If he does the Dodgers will get what they want–a trip to the Series.
Not even big money could seduce Dempster into joining the Red Sox. The new reality seems to require a formula of ridiculous longevity, plus big dollars guaranteed, with no risk to the player and all risk to the team. There must be limits to the Red Sox’s war chest after all.