Greinke candid about Dodgers' offseason of change

Greinke candid about Dodgers' offseason of change

LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke said he hasn't decided if he will opt out of his contract after this coming season and said he wouldn't go into much detail about his thoughts on the possibility until Spring Training.

Greinke did deliver with some candid and surprising appraisals when asked if the Dodgers are a better team now after a dramatic offseason of change than they were while winning 94 games last season.

"Going into the playoffs, I thought we were the best team in baseball," the starting pitcher said at Saturday's FanFest. "Obviously we didn't prove it. The year before, I wasn't that confident. This time, I thought it was our series to lose. To say we're better than that, I don't know if you can say that without seeing us play."

Greinke went further, saying he wasn't surprised by the number of roster changes once the changes began with an entirely new front office. He said he still believes the roster is "in good shape."

"Looking back, you could imagine all the moves, maybe not Dee [Gordon's trade], but everything else," he said, after ticking off the trade of Matt Kemp, shortstop Hanley Ramirez's departure as a free agent and the acquisition of catcher Yasmani Grandal. "You knew there would be a decent amount of moves."

Greinke praised Gordon's All-Star 2014 season, but said replacement Howie Kendrick (Greinke's former Angels teammate) has played at a higher level for a longer time.

New Dodgers speak at FanFest

One potential move Greinke wasn't ready to talk about is the clause in his contract that would allow him to be a free agent after this season. He said he's thought about it and might reveal more during Spring Training.

Greinke might be in for a longer, richer contract, but he sounded as if he wasn't eager to leave Los Angeles.

"I do know I really enjoy L.A.," he said. "I don't think there's a better organization. The owners are amazing. The front-office reputation is one of the top three. The coaches, too. There's not a better option than here."

Greinke said he agreed with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman that the new roster might be a better-functioning team than a collection of talent, but Greinke also warned that even if true, fans might need to be patient.

"Sometimes it takes a year or a couple of months to jell," he said. "It doesn't matter if you get the greatest guys in the world, it takes a while to get used to them, no matter the quality of the people."

But Greinke was talking about quality in terms of baseball ability, not personalities. In fact, he disputes that any of the changes needed to be made for chemistry purposes.

"I don't think we got rid of anyone that was an issue in the clubhouse," he said. "Anybody who says anything along those lines, I don't agree. I'm not saying everyone gets along with everyone, but there were definitely more plusses than minuses with everyone we got rid of."

Greinke also said he would "have an argument" that the moves were needed to improve the defense.

"How much better would [MVP and Cy Young Award winner Clayton] Kershaw be with a different shortstop?" he asked. "If you pitch good, you're doing your job and you still get outs."

Management, however, has said that improved defense has been a goal, even at the expense of some offense. Greinke didn't sound too sure about that, conceding it will be hard to replace the kind of offense Ramirez produced two years ago or Kemp's from the second half of last season.

"I guess the goal is to have a deeper lineup and make up the difference defensively and come up with a slightly better team," he said. "The Rays were overachievers, Oakland too, with the No. 1 goal of defense. It worked for them."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.