Why Greinke chose the Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke showed up alone to a mid-November meeting at Dodger Stadium, asking as many questions as he answered. When he left three hours later, the pitcher thought he may have found his new team while the Los Angeles Dodgers brass knew they had to land the top arm on the open market.
They did, signing Greinke to a $147 million, six-year deal that is the richest for a right-hander in baseball history. The Dodgers beat out Texas and the rival Los Angeles Angels, for whom Greinke pitched last season.
"He’s the one we wanted," said Magic Johnson, a partner in Guggenheim Baseball Management, which bought the team last spring. "A guy of Zack’s ability and also his commitment to his craft, they don’t come on the market too many times. We’re so thrilled to have him. Dodger pride is on the way back."
Greinke’s introduction on Tuesday culminated a more than $200 million spending spree by the Dodgers in which they also signed South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin, who got a $36 million, six-year deal. The club also spent $25.7 million on a posting fee that gave the Dodgers exclusive negotiating rights with Ryu.
"Nobody worried about the Yankees when they were doing this and winning," Johnson said. "We’re here to win."
The Dodgers haven’t won the World Series since 1988, but that didn’t discourage Greinke.
"Besides the money, the No. 1 (reason) was they have a team that could win a World Series for several years," he said.
Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, and Ryu give the Dodgers eight starting pitchers under contract for next season, joining 2011 NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang.
The Dodgers were eager to bolster their pitching this winter knowing that Billingsley (elbow) and Lilly (shoulder) are coming off operations.
"A lot of things have to come together," Greinke said. "You can’t just throw names on a team and be good. If everyone comes back healthy it should be a good ride. They could be good for every year of my contract, so there is no rebuilding."
With Greinke locked up, the Dodgers plan to discuss a contract extension with Kershaw, who can become a free agent after the 2014 season.
Casey Close, Greinke’s agent, said Texas was in the hunt for his client until the end.
"At one point, I was favoring Texas," Greinke said before the negotiations made him change his mind.
The Angels didn’t make it that far, according to Greinke, who said his former team "never really got into it when the details came."
"There’s a point where every team has to have a stopping point and they obviously reached it," he said. "I’m not mad at them. I don’t think they’re mad at how I went about things."
The 29-year-old righty started last season with Milwaukee and was later traded to the Angels, going a combined 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA. He is 91-78 with a 3.77 ERA in nine seasons with the Brewers, Dodgers and Angels.
In 2009, Greinke went 16-8 with a major league-leading 2.16 ERA for Kansas City, and he’d like to recapture that form.
"I was consistent that whole entire year," he said. "Most years I’ll start strong and hit a roadblock."
Greinke impressed Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, president and CEO Stan Kasten and manager Don Mattingly simply by showing up alone to their meeting.
"He was stunning. It was probably the best free-agent meeting I’ve ever had," Colletti said. "I can’t remember one that didn’t bring an agent or friends. If the questioning got a little tough, they had a fallback."
Greinke showed he’d done his homework on the Dodgers, discussing younger players in their system, his strategies for retiring everyone in the team’s lineup, and what the club would be like in three years. He saw Dodger Stadium as the kind of park that would allow him to be a fly ball pitcher.
"This was always a place I wanted to play," he said. "I loved it there (in Anaheim), so I assume this will be just as good."
Kasten impressed Greinke with his plans for the organization and what the pitcher said was "his ability to keep so many things under control."
"I don’t want to make his head too big, but I thought Stan was the smartest person I ever talked to," Greinke said. "With him in charge, I thought they had a chance to keep things going good."
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