Dodgers GM hints at budget

Updated: December 12, 2012, 1:51 AM ET
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti uttered the phrase the rest of baseball has been waiting all winter to hear.

"We're pretty much where we're going to be budgetarily," Colletti said, "unless something jumps out at us that's too good to say no to."

Greinke
Greinke

The Dodgers winter spending spree likely culminated, at least for now, with the signing of pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million contract. The team introduced Greinke at a Tuesday afternoon news conference at Dodger Stadium. Greinke, who can opt out of the deal after three years, is now the highest paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history.

The way things have been trending in free agency, fueled lately by the Dodgers' frantic upgrades, Greinke doesn't expect to hold that distinction long.

"That's how baseball is going. The money's just getting higher and higher," Greinke said. "As soon as a couple other guys sign, I'll be passed."

When the winter began, Greinke viewed the Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels as the co-favorites to land him. By the final days of negotiations, the Angels had dropped out and it was down to the Dodgers and Texas Rangers.

Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young winner, said he compiled a list of 10 criteria for places he wanted to sign and the Dodgers had good marks in nine of them, including offering him the highest salary and playing in a spacious home ballpark. The only item they came up short in was proximity to his Florida home.

"At one point, I was favoring Texas, but that changed there at the end," Greinke said.

What changed?

"Just the negotiations, I guess."

The money?

"It's what it gets to at the end," Greinke said.

It's hard to beat the Dodgers these days when it comes to spending. Since Frank McCourt sold the team to the Guggenheim Baseball Group last spring, the Dodgers have taken on more than $600 million in player salaries and they are in the midst of about $100 million in upgrades to Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers likely will enter 2013 with a payroll exceeding $230 million, eclipsing the 2008 New York Yankees' record payroll of $209 million handily. They would be the first team since the 1998 Baltimore Orioles to outspend the Yankees on player salaries entering a season.

It's all fueled by a new TV deal the Dodgers are negotiating that could net them in excess of $6 billion over the next 25 years.

Some people had speculated that Greinke would be more comfortable in a smaller city with less media demands given his history with social anxiety disorder and depression. He said he grew comfortable pitching in Southern California while with the Angels the final two months of last season.

The Dodgers were sold on Greinke's personality when he showed up at a Nov. 29 meeting without agent Casey Close and spent three hours chatting with Colletti, team president Stan Kasten and manager Don Mattingly. Among other topics, Greinke congratulated Colletti on the team's first-round draft pick last June, infielder Corey Seager, and discussed how he attacked Dodgers hitters.

Greinke said he wrote down the lineups for each of the teams pursuing him. Last summer, the Dodgers added All-Stars Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez to a core that already included Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

"It really made me realize how good this offense is," Greinke said. "It's as deep as any team. Before I did that, I didn't realize how good they were."

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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