Remember the other day when Don Mattingly was hired to manage the Marlins and we all commented on how incredibly obvious that move was? I think we all knew it wasn’t even close to the most obvious move of the offseason. Zack Greinke opting out was. Now, it’s official:
Zack Greinke has officially opted out. He is a free agent. #Dodgers
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) November 4, 2015
This comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever, of course. As I’ve long said, there was just a 0.0 percent chance that Greinke would simply forgo the opt-out and stick with the remaining three years on his deal. He’s in line to probably double the $71 million he would have had coming to him.
This, of course, does not mean he can’t return. Exercising the opt-out is a mere formality; if there are or were or will be discussions between the Dodgers and Greinke’s reps, they can still continue. But it does mean that he’s free to talk to each and every team now, and you know he will. This isn’t great; it’s also not in any way unexpected.
Three years ago, when he signed, I looked at how the opt-out could play:
Look at it this way — four options for how this turns out:
Greinke pitches well, and he stays to collect his full contract. Great! He’s been productive and so you don’t mind paying for him; in this scenario he likes the organization so much that he decides he doesn’t need to go through another stressful round of free agency.
Greinke pitches poorly / is injured, and he stays to collect his full contract. Sucks! But the opt-out doesn’t make it suck any more than it would have if he just had a straight six-deal. Actually, it makes it better, because now you’re not on the hook for year seven too and you can trade him if you like.
Greinke pitches well, and opts out. Fine! You’ve received three quality years of pitching, and while losing him opens up a giant hole in the rotation, you’re not obligated to spend $71m on his age 32-34 seasons if you don’t want to.
Greinke pitches poorly / is injured, and opts out. Hooray! This would never happen, of course, but if he hasn’t been earning the contract you’re more than thrilled to be rid of the back half of it.
Obviously, option number three is what happened. You wish he would stay, because he’s been great. But I didn’t hate the opt-out at the time, and I don’t mind it now.