The Dodgers reportedly were never comfortable with guaranteeing the 32-year-old Greinke a sixth year. But Arizona did.
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"We made a very strong offer to retain Zack but clearly he found a deal that fit better for him and his family," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a team release. "We are now hard at work on our alternatives. We wish Zack, Emily and Bode all the best going forward."
The Dodgers' rotation now is Clayton Kershaw and question marks. Brett Anderson returns from his first healthy season since 2009. Management concedes that Hyun-Jin Ryu is a "wild card" coming off shoulder surgery. Brandon McCarthy is out until midseason after Tommy John surgery. Alex Wood is the only other proven starter.
Heading into the offseason, the Dodgers appeared to have backup free-agent options lined up if they missed on Greinke. David Price pitched for Friedman with Tampa Bay. Jordan Zimmermann was a name often heard.
But Zimmermann signed with Detroit and Price jumped to the Red Sox on Tuesday, leaving the Dodgers with a big dropoff if they didn't get Greinke. The top starting pitchers on the free-agent market now are Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir, Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo and Japan's Kenta Maeda.
The Dodgers can turn to the trade market, perhaps dangling closer Kenley Jansen or outfielder Yasiel Puig, while opposing clubs always ask for young shortstop Corey Seager and even younger pitcher Julio Urias, both considered untouchables.
The club on Friday intensified efforts to sign free-agent reliever Ryan Madson after apparently missing out on Darren O'Day.
Looking back on his decision to sign with the Dodgers three years ago, Greinke conceded that he took the highest offer -- six years, $147 million, and an opt-out after three seasons that put him back on the market after a National League Cy Young Award runner-up performance.
Although Greinke seemed to enjoy his time with the Dodgers, it was known that he was annoyed with the club's tolerance of Puig's antics. And when asked his opinion of the club's Trade Deadline deals, he had no comment.
Add in a rookie manager and CEO Stan Kasten's comments that the roster would get younger and Greinke might have had reservations being part of an unannounced rebuild.
With Greinke a formidable No. 2 to Kershaw, the Dodgers rode dominating starting pitching to an unprecedented three consecutive division titles. Now Arizona takes a bold step toward closing the 13-game gap that existed between the two teams at the end of this season.
Greinke went 51-15 over his three years with the Dodgers, finishing as runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award this year when his 1.66 ERA was the lowest in 20 years.
For losing Greinke, who was extended a qualifying offer, the Dodgers will receive a compensatory Draft pick between the first and second rounds.