SAN FRANCISCO — The rare offseason showdown between the Giants and Dodgers was won by … the Arizona Diamondbacks.
About an hour after a report surfaced that Zack Greinke was considering a third team, the Diamondbacks, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed that the Cy Young Award runner-up has indeed chosen to play out the rest of his prime in Phoenix. The final dollar amount was not immediately known, but the Diamondbacks surely had to blow away their two NL West rivals.
A Dodger the past three seasons, Greinke is coming off one of the best seasons in recent memory. He was 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA last season, losing out on his second Cy Young only because Chicago’s Jake Arrieta had a historic second half.
Greinke opted out of the remainder of his Dodgers deal and immediately became one of the top players — if not the top player — on the market. The race narrowed to two, and for most of this week league sources have reiterated that Greinke, who visited San Francisco last month, was choosing between the Giants and the Dodgers. It was believed that Greinke, 32, was holding out for a sixth year, and the Diamondbacks gave it to him, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The move immediately makes the Diamondbacks a contender in the National League, and a decent bet to end the Dodgers’ three-year run atop the National League West. Arizona finished 79-83 last season, 13 games behind the Dodgers and four back of the Giants, but rival evaluators — and some Giants players — viewed them as a dark horse going forward. The Diamondbacks have a deep lineup, led by perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and breakout star A.J. Pollock, and they play strong defense. Their weakness was starting pitching, and they’ll now line up behind Greinke, one of the best in baseball, and Patrick Corbin, who looked good after a midseason return from Tommy John surgery.
While Greinke won’t be a Giant, the move doesn’t necessarily hurt them much. At the very least the Greinke-Clayton Kershaw duo has been broken up. The Dodgers are currently worse off than they were at the end of the season as far as pitching goes.
The Giants are now expected to turn their attention to Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake, two of the top right-handers left on the market. Samardzija has been a priority since the start of the offseason, and the hard-throwing 30-year-old visited San Francisco last month. He is said to be very interested in becoming a Giant, although the price could surpass $100 million.
Leake didn’t live up to expectations after coming over from the Reds at the deadline, but the Giants believe he’s a good bet to hold up on a long-term deal, and they’re confident he can be a strong contributor behind Madison Bumgarner.