Last night Zack Greinke and the Dodgers agreed to a contract that makes Greinke the second-highest paid pitcher ever, and gave him a ton of leverage to re-enter free agency at various points during his contract. He’ll be able to opt out of his contract after the third year, and if he is ever traded, the contract gives him the option to opt out at the end of the year he’s traded.
From a strictly Mariners-Dodgers standpoint, this means that the Mariners may have a shot to buy a guy like Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, or Aaron Harang for cents on the dollar. The Dodgers have seven starting pitchers now, presumably only five rotation spots, and though the team doesn’t seem to have a defined budget cap, they may not feel it’s prudent to go into the season with too many starters, especially ones on guaranteed salaries and ones with no bullpen experience of late.
But nobody cares about the Mariners adding a back-of-the-rotation arm. People care about Josh Hamilton. People care about Justin Upton. People care about the Mariners offense crawling out of the cellar and flooding the cellar with homeruns.
The Rangers were flirting with Greinke for the past several weeks. One of the Mariners’ saving graces in the Hamilton chase was that the Rangers appeared reluctant to sign both Hamilton and Greinke to large contracts. They went so far as to begin negotiating a four-team trade for Justin Upton. The Mariners joined those negotiations like a guy on some reality dating show, trying to make sure that the Rangers ended up with Upton so they could have a shot with Hamilton.
Both Hamilton and Upton are attracted to the Rangers, but the Mariners did everything they could to pipe fart smell into the Rangers date with Hamilton, and attempted to pick up part of the bill for Upton.
If you like the idea of signing Hamilton this is a bad sign. He seems to want to return to Texas, and Texas appears to want him back. They wanted to be able to afford it.
The Rangers traded Michael Young and $6 million of his salary to Philadelphia yesterday, too. We may find out that Hamilton was going to return to Texas even if they signed Greinke, and that the Young trade was a method of assuring that. We are more likely to find out nothing, but who cares?
So now that the Rangers are more likely to sign Hamilton, the Mariners may have gained leverage in a trade for Justin Upton. There’s some thought that the Rangers may attempt to carry both Upton and Hamilton, and considering that their main DH is gone in Young, and his presumed replacement Mike Napoli signed with Boston, it’s entirely feasible that the Rangers could not only sign Upton and Hamilton, but that if they did so without making any additional moves, they’d be able to give each a full complement of plate appearances.
The Diamondbacks are looking for a big league ready shortstop, and the Rangers have Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. You could make an argument that Nick Franklin is close, but he’s not there. Andrus is two years away from free agency, and going into his age 24 season. Profar got a cup of coffee in the bigs last year at only 19 years old. Nick Franklin is a good prospect. He’s not as good as Profar or Andrus.
So the Mariners are once again hanging on, hoping to get fat off of the Rangers leftovers. It’s a bad position to be in, but there’s a trade off. Zack Greinke won’t be in the AL West next year, and you’d have a hard argument to say even if they add Upton, and bring Hamilton back, that the Rangers are better than they were last year. The Angels lost three-fifths of their starting rotation.