Zack Greinke Exercises Opt-Out In Contract With Los Angeles Dodgers, Becomes Free Agent

Zack Greinke, as expected, has exercised the opt-out in his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. By using the opt-out, Greinke is officially a free agent and can sign with any team. 

The 32-year-old was set to make $71-million over the next three seasons, but should be able to make more, if not double, in the open market. All 30 teams will be keeping thier eye on the MLB's most dominant pitcher of 2015. 

One team that will chase after Greinke is the San Francisco Giants, the rival of the Dodgers, according to Buster Olney of ESPN

While the starting pitcher wants to win, he also wants money. Greinke loves to hit, so he will probably stay in the National League. Those two factors will set him up on a date with the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, Giants or Dodgers. More than those four will be craving Greinke, so it is possible that a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks could be a dark horse. 

The Cubs have had a ton of rumors surrounding David Price reuniting with manager Joe Maddon, who was his manager back with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Chicago, however, might favor Greinke over Price because of Price's poor postseason stats. Also, Greinke is a much better hitter than Price, which will be a factor since the Cubs play in the National League. 

Los Angeles already has the upper hand because the right-handed pitcher has been there for the past three seasons. Brett Anderson, who went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA in 2015, is a free agent and is not predicted to return to the Dodger blue uniform. Meanwhile, Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) and Brandon McCarthy (elbow) will be coming off serious injuries, which makes for a tough future to predict. 

The rotation behind Clayton Kershaw will be very weak unless the Dodgers can bring back Greinke, or sign a top pitcher. Obviously, the Dodgers will make a push to re-sign him, but they will face competition. 

If the Dodgers can not bring back their former pitcher, they will need to add Price or Johnny Cueto to help with the pitching staff. They have the money, so expect Los Angeles to spend it. 

Greinke, a right-handed pitcher, is coming off a 19-3 record with a 1.66 ERA. Over three seasons, Greinke is 51-15 with a 2.30 ERA. Regardless of where he ends up, Greinke is projected to finish 2016 with a 15-6 record and a 2.54 ERA over 191.0 innings pitched.

The good news for every team is that the depth of free agent starting pitchers is plentiful. Jordan Zimmermann, Price, Cueto and Greinke would all be aces on their respective team. Also, there are many second-tier pitchers that are looking for a new home in 2016 that are available via free agency or trade. 

Prior to joining the Dodgers in 2013, the sixth overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft threw for the Kansas City Royals (2004-2010), Milwaukee Brewers (2011-2012) and Los Angeles Angels (2012). Over his 12-year career, the righty is 142-93 with a 3.35 ERA over 354 games pitched. 

Some top players available through free agency or trade include: Zack GreinkeJason HeywardDavid PriceAlex GordonYoenis CespedesJohnny CuetoBen ZobristJordan ZimmermannJustin UptonChris Davis, Matt Wieters, and more. 

"A lot of these guys will be looking for big contracts," one executive said. "But I don't know if everybody is going to come close to what they're looking for. Some years there aren't a lot of good players available, but that's not going to be the case this winter."