While right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke politely answered questions Friday morning on reasons why he signed a 6-year, $206 million contract with the Diamondbacks, what he did not say spoke louder. With an option to opt out of the final three years of his Dodgers’ contract, it appeared Greinke could not agree to terms with Los Angeles.
Though Greinke admitted he was minutes away from making a commitment to likely the Dodgers, that’s when the Diamondbacks called. At that point, the entire scenario changed. Greinke did not identify the team to which he was close to signing, but the implication was clear that the Dodgers were a priority.
To hear Greinke tell it, the turning point of his interest with Arizona was around the mid-way mark of last season. Taken by the way the Diamondbacks play the game and interaction of the players, Greinke said he witnessed something special.
“It was around the All-Star game and I saw guys making great catches and taking extra bases,” Greinke said Friday during an introductory news conference in Chase Field. “Plus, they scored a lot of runs, and I thought this is an impressive group of guys.”
As Greinke was about to settle on a team other than the Diamondbacks, Casey Close, his agent, called and said he just received a call from the Diamondbacks. In matter of a short period of time, Greinke made his commitment to Arizona. In that regard, Diamondbacks’ general manager Dave Stewart indicated, “we were a minute too soon and not a minute too late.”
If Greinke had three years left on a potential L. A. contract, the Dodgers were unwilling to extend Greinke for three additional years. When the Diamondbacks offered to go with a 6-year deal, Greinke accepted. For now, Greinke wears Sedona Red for those next six years and there is no opt clause.
If the Dodgers appear in a transition state at this point in the off-season, the Diamondbacks seem to be a team with strength and a clear future. Greinke indicated the longevity of Paul Goldschmidt, A. J. Pollock and others to commitments of three and four years was appealing.
“This is not about now,” Greinke said. “It’s not about just winning now, but for the next three, four years.”
Quiet, taciturn and private, Greinke refers to remain under the radar screen. At the same time, he managed to invoke a few smiles at his Friday session with the Arizona media. Yet, his response to questions was relatively short.
With Greinke in place and the addition of right-hander Shelby Miller, acquired earlier this week from the Braves, the Diamondbacks achieved Stewart’s major goal of this off-season. That approach, Stewart indicated “was to improve the top of the rotation.”
Yet, Tony La Russa, the club’s Chief Baseball Officer who also attended Friday’s news conference, took Greinke’s addition to the next level. La Russa indicated the organization was set with the position players, from an offensive and defense perspective, but improvement of the starting rotation was the top priority.
“We were looking for a true number one to take the ball and lead,” La Russa said. “(Greinke) is a true pitcher. We made him our number one priority because he is a true pitcher. Plus, he is in the midst of a great career.”