LOS ANGELES -- The Angels kept tabs on Zack Greinke for most of the offseason. At his request, they mostly put aside the topic of free agency during his two-month stint in Anaheim. But as soon as the offseason began, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto spoke regularly with Greinke's new agent, Casey Close, and even Greinke himself. They badly wanted to bring the ace right-hander back, and they kept their hopes alive.
Until last Monday, Day 1 of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., when Close finally revealed actual terms of the kind of contract Greinke was looking for.
At that point, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said, the Angels decided to move on.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Two days later, Dipoto went with his alternate plan, going cheaper with the rotation and heavier on the bullpen by signing lefty reliever Sean Burnett and innings-eater Joe Blanton. And on Tuesday, Greinke was instead introduced as the Dodgers' No. 2 starter, by way of a six-year, $147 million contract that's the largest ever for a right-handed pitcher.
The Angels, Greinke said, "never really got into" the realm of contractual details.
Dipoto wasn't against paying a starting pitcher more than ace Jered Weaver, who signed a team-friendly five-year, $85 million extension in August 2011. But with at least three holes in his pitching staff and less payroll flexibility -- from $159 million in 2012 to probably about $145 million in 2013 -- they weren't going to compete with the Dodgers' ultimate offer.
"When I talked to Jerry, I told him the No. 1 selling thing that they have is the fact that you can play with Mike Trout for the next six years or whatever," said Greinke, who met with Dipoto at Angel Stadium in November. "We loved it there. But there's a point where every team has to have a stopping point. They obviously felt that they reached that. And they have to run a business.
"They can't just pay for everyone. It could be the right thing to do, it could've been a mistake, but I don't know the answer to that. They just have to do what they have to do. I'm not mad about it; I don't think they were mad about how I went about things, either."
Just before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Angels acquired Greinke from the Brewers in exchange for one top-tier prospect, shortstop Jean Segura, and two young, high-upside right-handers, John Hellweg and Ariel Pena.
The priority was to make the playoffs in 2012 -- which they fell four wins shy of -- but part of the allure was that Greinke might warm up to an extension if he got a feel for the organization down the stretch.
At that point, the last thing the Angels thought was that Greinke would command a $150 million contract. But the combination of a thin starting-pitching market and a deep-pocketed Dodgers team made that a reality.
"I think they were very interested," Close said of the Angels. "There came a point when I think they made a decision that they wanted to alter their strategy and go in a different direction. But I think they were very interested. Jerry was very engaged, and we had a lot of good discussions throughout the entire process."
The Angels, Dodgers and Rangers were Greinke's main suitors all offseason, though the 29-year-old right-hander said other teams also jumped in. After the Angels pulled out, though, it came down to Texas and Los Angeles.
"At one point, I was favoring Texas," Greinke said. "But that changed at the end."
Suiting up in the National League, playing in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, living in Southern California, winning and, of course, money, all played a hand in Greinke swaying toward the Dodgers.
It's not clear how much money the Angels were offering, but with $100 million already tied to seven players for 2014, and one offseason removed from giving Albert Pujols a $240 million deal, they couldn't stay in the Greinke sweepstakes very long.
"We enjoyed Zack's time with the Angels. He pitched very well for us after being acquired from the Brewers," said Dipoto, who chose not to get into specifics on his negotiations with Greinke. "Ultimately, we didn't reach our goal, which was the postseason. I'm sure Zack will be happy with his new club, and we wish him nothing but the best."