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Greinke to Sign with Dodgers for 6 Years/$147 Million?

Holy mackerel!! In the SB Nation Winter Simulation we were all laughing at the free agent contract for Zack Greinke of 6 years for $175 million. It turns out it wasn't that far off. The Dodgers just added another $25 million/year contract to their already astronomical payroll. Projections peg their 2013 payroll in the $210-$220 million range. Needless to say they'll be shelling out some serious luxury tax dollars.

Greinke is about to sign a huge contract with the Yankees East
Greinke is about to sign a huge contract with the Yankees East
Kevin C. Cox

More importantly they don't really care. They are on the verge of signing a TV rights deal that will pay them an average of around $250 million a year. GM Ned Colletti claims they can't be reckless, but I don't know how else to describe the Greinke signing. Greinke posted an ERA+ of 114 last year. It was 103 the year before that and 100 the year before that. By comparison Ian Kennedy had a bad year last year and his ERA+ was 103. Wade Miley's was 125. But is it really reckless?

Greinke managed a bWAR of 3.3 which ranked 27th overall, though Fangraphs was more generous with a 5.1 fWAR which ranked 7th overall. We can all agree that Zack Greinke is good, but is he $25 million good for the next six years? Again, I don't think the Dodgers really care. And when I say they don't care, I don't mean they don't care whether he's good or bad. I'm saying they don't care what the standard economics of baseball say he's worth. What he's worth to the Diamondbacks is irrelevant to what he's worth to the Dodgers. The typical figure of $5 million per unit of free agent WAR (plus or minus) doesn't really apply to the Dodgers anymore.

If they are buying the 2012 Greinke as evaluated by Fangraphs then they're probably on target. But if they're buying the 2011 Greinke (27th in fWAR and 114th in bWAR) this is a really bad deal. If you average Greinke's last three seasons you get a bWAR of 2.6 and an fWAR of 4.7. Maybe someone smarter than me can explain why the major disparity between Fangraphs and Baseball Reference on what Greinke is worth, but if you average these two numbers you get 3.6. The Diamondbacks would never be able to justify paying $25 million for a 3.6 WAR. But the Dodgers certainly can. This would imply that the $/WAR figure the Dodgers are working with is around $7 million per unit. On the surface that does not seem godawful extreme, but it also assumes that they'll actually get 3.6 WAR for each of those six seasons. One or two really good seasons and that number comes back down closer to $5 million per. But one or two bad seasons and it ends up around $10 million. Which is more likely? I'd say the latter.

And rumor has it they're not done yet with plans to go after Anibal Sanchez or Ryu Hyun-jin. How do we look at this as Dbacks fans? Do we cry for more revenue sharing and salary caps or do we relish the possible joy of beating up on the Yankees West. I'd say maybe a little of both. With the humongous TV revenue coming their way, the Dodgers can afford even more than a $220 million annual payroll. They may not blink on spending until they get up into the $300 million annual range. They have a Kershaw signing due up soon which will surely be another 6-year/$150 million deal, if not more.

My general sentiment as a Dbacks fan is I really don't like where this is all heading. Buying the best players "generally" gives you an advantage over your competition. Sure, we will mount the occasional good season and take them down. But I don't see how we can expect to compete year-after-year against this kind of outlandish spending. I've been telling anyone who would listen for the last five years that the last thing we want is for McCourt to sell the Dodgers to someone who knows what they're doing. Well, that's exactly what has happened. And even if they are reckless they can afford to be. The future of the NL West is about to become eerily similar to the AL East and we're the Tampa Bay Rays, without all the genius management. I don't like this at all, not one bit.