Dodgers nearing deal with Greinke

By Ken Gurnick / 12/08/12 10:22 PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers and free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke are close to a multiyear agreement, according to a baseball source. The Texas Rangers, Greinke's other prominent suitor, were notified Saturday that they are no longer under consideration, according to T.R. Sullivan of
The deal, six years and $147 million, would be the largest in history for a right-handed pitcher and would assure the Dodgers a 2013 payroll in excess of $200 million. Greinke still must pass a physical exam.
Greinke has been the top free-agent target this winter of Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who wants to load up on starting pitching by sliding the former Cy Young Award winner behind ace and former Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.
Colletti said he would sign two starters this offseason if they were "the right two." The Dodgers also have Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly as starting pitchers on their roster and have been negotiating with Korean free agent Ryu Hyun-jin, with a deadline of Sunday at 2 p.m. PT to have him signed or return him to Korea.
In contrast to recent years, when the Dodgers scrambled to plug holes with modest signings, they entered this offseason with new owners, bold, unrestrained wealth and clear targets. They quickly re-signed closer Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5 million contract, but left the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., this week with no other additions while laser-focused on Greinke.
On the business end, their coffers will soon be refilled with a new media deal that has been rumored at $6 billion or more, a significant return on the $2.15 billion purchase price out of bankruptcy earlier this year by Guggenheim Baseball Partners from Frank McCourt.
The Greinke deal will provide a benchmark in anticipated contract extension negotiations for Kershaw, who is signed for 2013 for $11 million, the second and last year of a $19 million deal. He will be eligible for salary arbitration in 2014, then free agency in 2015, and Colletti has said the club would probably talk about an extension this winter.
News of Greinke's probable signing was quickly met with approval by one Dodger.
"Not sure who's more excited about Dodgers signing Greinke: AJ the catcher of another Ace or AJ the hitter who doesn't have to face him," catcher A.J. Ellis tweeted.
Greinke, 29, is a Floridian who was a first-round Draft pick out of high school in 2002 by the Kansas City Royals. He reached the Major Leagues in 2004, pitching in Kansas City until he was traded to Milwaukee after the 2010 season.
It was in Kansas City where Greinke won the 2009 American League Cy Young award, playing for manager Trey Hillman, who is now the bench coach of the Dodgers. Hillman provided management with insight into Greinke's talents on the mound and idiosyncrasies off it.
In 2006, Greinke opened the season on the 60-day disabled list to deal with depression and social anxiety disorder. In 2008 he was a 13-game winner and in 2009, after signing a four-year, $38 million contract, he went 16-8 with a league-leading 2.16 ERA, was an All-Star and won the Cy Young Award.
In 2011 he went 16-6 with an ERA of 3.83, going 11-0 at home after beginning the season on the disabled list with a broken rib suffered in a Spring Training pickup basketball game.
In 2012 Grienke went a combined 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA, being traded by Milwaukee to the Angels on July 27.
Greinke has approached his free agency the way he does just about everything -- differently. Methodical and analytical, he has driven the process in interviews with club executives, leaving few details untouched.
As one of his former coaches said at the Winter Meetings, "Greinke is different -- but in a good way." A former teammate dubbed him "Captain Weirdo." Hillman said Greinke was a good teammate, just not a talkative one.
Greinke is not fond of idle chit-chat, as he once told a new lockermate upon their meeting. But he's a power-pitching competitor, which put him at the top of the Dodgers' list for available pitchers coming into this offseason.
With Greinke slotted into the rotation behind Kershaw, the Dodgers would turn to adding yet another pitcher. They will know by Sunday if it's Ryu, because that's the deadline to either sign the lefty or send him back to Korea with the club's $25.7 million posting fee refunded.
If they don't sign Ryu, the next free-agent target would be Anibal Sanchez. But the Dodgers also are pursuing trades for two very different but equally dominating starters -- Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey of the Mets and James Shields of the Rays.