Shortly after Zack Greinke signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in December, he made a surprising admission: It came down to the money. The Dodgers deal will earn him as much as $159 million over the next six years. That’s why he signed with them.
Very often, when it comes to pro athletes and big contracts, either the player or his agent will say “It’s not about the money,” at some point during the process. Most of us recognize it as a lie — or at least a form of denial, a rationalization presented to protect the athlete from looking like a greedy bastard because he wants, or just signed for, more money than he will ever need.
Greinke, as we already kind of know, is different. And yet, he’s no different. In a report published Monday by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Greinke reinforced what he said in December.
Greinke reads everything, hears everything and seemingly knows everything. He wants the record straight, and he works at keeping it that way.
And money in free agency, to him, was no small thing.
“It’s obviously the No. 1 thing,” Greinke said. “I could play for the worst team if they paid the most … If the last place team offers $200 million and the first-place team offers $10, I’m going to go for the $200-million no matter what team it was.”
You hear that, Houston Astros?! OK, so that’s not exactly the situation presented to Greinke this winter.
The other leading contender for his services, the Texas Rangers, were prepared to spend well over $100 million to sign him. They’re one of the best teams — better than the Dodgers, probably. They just didn’t want to offer Greinke an opt-out clause after three years which, as Heyman points out, also is about the money.
Nobody came at Greinke with an offer of $10, of course, or even the major league minimum of $490,000 per year. So he undercut the first part of his own quote a little bit.
But do I believe him that he’d play for the Astros if they offered the most money? Well, yeah. The only other sticking point might have been Houston moving to the AL. No more pitchers batting, which Greinke has been looking forward to.
How often has anyone cut through the crap and just said, “Yeah, I wanted to play for this team because they were the highest bidder”? Not too often. But personalities such as Zack Greinke don’t come around too often. Yeah, he liked the idea of playing for a flagship franchise, and possibly living on a beach in southern California (if there could be helicopters), and that new Dodgers ownership would spend money until they won all the world championships! All of that quality of life stuff is nice.
But it’s not as nice as money.