Although this year’s trade deadline was way back on August 1, teams still have the ability to make deals through trade waivers. Matt Snyder explained how trade waivers work a few weeks back. Teams can still make trades at any point the rest of the season.
That said, there is a catch. Beyond the waivers process, players must have been in the organization prior to 11:59 p.m. ET on Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason roster. There are no loopholes around that one. September trades are rare, but if one happens, the players involved can’t be on the playoff roster.
Prior to that Aug. 31 deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly approached the Arizona Diamondbacks about a trade involving right-hander Zack Greinke . Greinke of course pitched for the Dodgers from 2013-15. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has the scoop:
It’s not going to happen, not yet and maybe not ever. But the Dodgers expressed interest in trading for the Diamondbacks right-hander before Wednesday night’s deadline for players to become eligible for postseason rosters, according to major-league sources.
The discussions were not substantive and did not advance, sources said. The Dodgers, however, could revisit their continuing interest in Greinke this offseason; clearly, they still covet a pitcher who had a 2.30 ERA for them from 2013 to ’15.
Greinke opted out of his contract with the Dodgers this past offseason, and while they tried to re-sign him, he wound up signing a record six-year contract worth $206.5 million with the D-Backs. His $34.4 million average annual salary is the highest in baseball history.
The deal hasn’t worked out for Arizona so far. Greinke has a sparkling 12-4 record, but his 4.17 ERA (106 ERA+) is roughly 2 1/2 runs higher than the 1.66 ERA (220 ERA+) he put up with the Dodgers in 2015. Also, he’s missed some time with an oblique injury, and the D-Backs are well out of the postseason race at 56-77.
I imagine the D-Backs plan to contend next season, which is why they opted not to pursue a Greinke trade with their NL West rivals. Are they foolish to think that? Maybe, maybe not. Depends how the offseason goes, really. I do believe a trade sending Greinke back to the Dodgers would have been benefited everyone though. The Dodgers, the D-Backs, and Greinke himself. Here’s how.
How the D-Backs benefit
This one is pretty simple, so we might as well start here. The Greinke trade would allow Arizona to unload his enormous contract — or at least a big part of it — and reallocate that money elsewhere. When you’re 56-77, you have a lot of needs. Greinke’s salary could be better used elsewhere on the roster.
Also, as excellent as he’s been throughout his career, keep in mind Greinke will turn 33 in October. He’s a workhorse with more than 2,300 regular season and postseason innings to his credit, and that’s an awful lot of wear and tear. Greinke figures to start declining reasonably soon, if he hasn’t already.
The D-Backs are a small payroll team — their $101.8 million payroll ranked 26th among the 30 teams on Opening Day — and unless they’re planning to significant increase spending in the future*, committing that much payroll to a declining veteran can be crippling.
* Arizona’s new $1.5 billion television deal kicked in this season, so perhaps they are planning to up spending in a big way soon. Still, unloading Greinke’s contract can be seen as a plus.
How the Dodgers benefit
Thanks to a seemingly never-ending string of injuries, the Dodgers have used 14 different starting pitchers this season, tied with the rebuilding Atlanta Braves , Cincinnati Reds , and San Diego Padres for the most in baseball. That number will swell to 15 this weekend when Jose De Leon makes his MLB debut.
Dave Roberts confirms that @JDL_87 will start for Dodgers on Sunday.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) September 2, 2016
In the short-term, the Dodgers desperately need rotation help and Greinke would fill an obvious need. You don’t acquire a player in year one of a six-year contract simply to address an short-term need, however. The Dodgers are likely thinking big picture, with two things in mind.
1. The upcoming free agent classes are pretty terrible.
The best starter scheduled to hit the open market this winter is probably current Dodgers southpaw Rich Hill , who is 36, has a limited track record, and has had a hard time staying on the field in 2016. Other notable free agent starters are Andrew Cashner and Ivan Nova . Yikes.
Next year’s free agent class isn’t looking much better, so the Dodgers likely see a Greinke trade as their best opportunity to add a quality starter at any point over the next two and a half years or so. They obviously know him as a pitcher and a person, and they’re comfortable with having him under contract long term. Free agency won’t offer high-end rotation help anytime soon. Getting Greinke now is an appealing alternative.
2. Kershaw’s opt-out is looming.
Fun fact: Clayton Kershaw has not pitched in a game since June 26 due to a back injury, and he still leads all pitchers in the FanGraphs version of WAR. Kershaw is at 5.5 WAR, and both Noah Syndergaard and Jose Fernandez are next in line at 5.4 WAR. That’s how much better he is than everyone else. He’s been out two months and he’s still been the most valuable pitcher in the game.
Anyway, Kershaw’s contract includes an opt-out clause after the 2018 season, and while that is still two full seasons away, it affects the Dodgers and their decision making in two ways:
- They want to maximize their chances of winning the World Series before Kershaw has the opportunity to leave.
- They have to figure out a way to build a rotation without Kershaw after 2018 should he leave as a free agent.
The Dodgers have as much money as any team in baseball, and while it seems silly to suggest Kershaw could opt out and sign elsewhere as a free agent, who knows what the landscape will be in two years. Did anyone foresee Greinke opting out of his contract with the Dodgers and signing a record deal with the D-Backs? Of course not.
Greinke would satisfy both of those needs for the Dodgers. He’d improve their chances of winning a championship not only in 2016, but also in 2017 and 2018 before Kershaw’s opt-out comes into play. And if Kershaw does opt out after 2018, Greinke would be under contract and ready to step in as the leader of the pitching staff.
How Greinke benefits
We can’t forget about Greinke himself. This trade effects him as well, not only the teams. I see three ways Greinke would benefit on the field by being traded from the D-Backs to the Dodgers.
1. He’d get a chance to win the World Series.
First and foremost, going back to the first-place Dodgers would give Greinke a legitimate chance to win a title this season. He’s been on some very good teams in his career, but Greinke has never won a championship or even advanced to the World Series. He’s been to the NLCS in 2011 ( Milwaukee Brewers ) and 2013 (Dodgers). That’s as far as his teams have made it.
2. He’d be moving into a much friendlier home ballpark.
Historically, Chase Field is known as a hitter-friendly ballpark and Dodger Stadium is known as a pitcher-friendly ballpark. The data bears that out. According to the park factors at Baseball-Reference, Chase Field has inflated offense to 105 percent of the league average this season while Dodger Stadium has suppressed run scoring to 94 percent of the league average. That’s a huge difference! Any pitcher would rather call Dodger Stadium home than Chase Field.
3. The Dodgers are a better defensive team.
Not only is Dodger Stadium a great place to pitch, but the Dodgers are also a much better defensive team than the D-Backs. Los Angeles has a .712 Defensive Efficiency, which means they turn 71.2 percent of batted balls into outs. That’s sixth best in baseball. The D-Backs? They’re tied with the Minnesota Twins for dead last in baseball with a .679 Defensive Efficiency. Greinke would be leaving the worst defensive team in the league and joining one of the best.
There’s also the off-the-field aspect to this that we can’t ignore and can’t quantify. We have no idea how Greinke felt about living in Los Angeles and being a Dodger. Maybe he hated the traffic. (Not that Phoenix is much better!) Greinke has a 15-team no-trade list and it’s unclear if the Dodgers are one of those 15 teams. If they are, he’s in control here, and he wouldn’t have to go back to Los Angeles if he doesn’t want to.
From the sound of it, the Dodgers and D-Backs currently have no traction for a Greinke trade. They could revisit this in the offseason or even next year, and maybe Arizona will be more open to a deal then, but for now it sounds like it’s not going to happen even though all three parties would benefit. The D-Backs would shed a huge contract, the Dodgers would get a quality pitcher, and Greinke would move into a better ballpark with a better defensive team. It would be a win-win-win.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Here’s why trading Greinke to the Dodgers would make sense all around