LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Monday finalized a six-year deal with free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke.
Greinke's deal, which is worth $147 million with an opt-out clause after three seasons, is the largest in history for a right-handed pitcher. Along with Sunday's signing of Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, it sends the Dodgers' 2013 payroll past $225 million, a Major League record.
"As we looked at the list, one name continued to come back to us -- Zack Greinke," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said at Tuesday's news conference to introduce Greinke to the media. "We did whatever we could to engage in conversations with [agent] Casey Close. ... It was very important to us to let Zack know how serious we were about making this team as great as we could make it and the part that he could play in it would be a major part."
Greinke and Ryu provide the Dodgers with unprecedented starting pitching depth. With Clayton Kershaw ahead of them and Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett behind, the Dodgers now have the luxury of dangling Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly for potential trades.
"When we lost and we knew we were out of playoff contention last season," part owner Magic Johnson said, "we all looked at each other and [club president] Stan [Kasten] came over, and we all didn't like the feeling. The one thing we talked about was making sure our pitching staff got better. And we knew Zack was going to be a free agent, and that was our main target. That was the one we wanted."
In contrast to recent years, when the Dodgers scrambled to plug holes with modest signings, they entered this offseason with new owners, bold 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., last week with no other additions while focusing 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 no doubt provide a benchmark in anticipated contract extension negotiations for Kershaw. Kershaw 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 '15, and Colletti has said the club would probably talk about an extension this winter.
Earlier Monday, Johnson tweeted: "Dodger Nation I am happy to announce we have signed P Zack Greinke, the best pitcher on the Free Agent Market!"
Greinke, 29, is a Floridian who was a first-round Draft pick out of high school in 2002 by the 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 '09, 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 a 3.83 ERA, 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 the Brewers 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.
"There's a couple things I was really looking at with teams besides the money, I guess," Greinke said. "The No. 1 [factor] was to have a team that could have a chance to win a World Series for several years. ... My main goal was a team that was competing each year to get a World Series [title]. Also, I looked at the organizations some, the cities -- which ones we'd be most comfortable in and which ones we'd enjoy the most. Then also what my parents kind of liked and stuff like that.
"[The Angels] kept in contact the whole time, from when I first got there to right when the season was over and right when the World Series was over. When the details came, they never really got into it too much. But my wife and I loved it there. Great place."
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 chitchat, as he once told a new locker mate 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.
"We are very pleased to add a second pitcher who has won a Cy Young Award to this rotation and organization," Colletti said. "We believe he brings a lot to this team and to a pitching staff that was already very good."