Would Zack Greinke or R.A. Dickey Be a Better Fit with LA Dodgers?

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Would Zack Greinke or R.A. Dickey Be a Better Fit with LA Dodgers?
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
The Dodgers are one of several teams interested in R.A. Dickey.

Trade rumors involving R.A. Dickey have generated plenty of buzz during the first two days of MLB's winter meetings. But there also seems to be the sense that the New York Mets won't trade him until after Zack Greinke signs with a team. 

Could both Dickey and Greinke end up with the Los Angeles Dodgers? According to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick, the two pitchers aren't necessarily an either-or proposition for general manager Ned Colletti. 

The Dodgers could try to get both pitchers, providing their rotation with a top three of Cy Young Award winners that would rival the Philadelphia Phillies' trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and make Los Angeles a favored playoff contender in the NL. 

If the Dodgers were to lose out on Greinke, presumably to the Texas Rangers or the Los Angeles Angels, then Dickey would certainly be a fallback option, giving the rotation the strong No. 2 starter Colletti is looking to acquire. 

The presumption is that the Dodgers won't have to make a choice because they can just pay more than any other team. 

That is certainly true for Greinke and it's why the Dodgers have always been considered the favorite to sign him. The Texas Rangers or Los Angeles Angels aren't going to win a bidding war with the free-spending Dodgers.

But principal owner Mark Walter has expressed a reluctance to sign a pitcher to a long-term deal, telling the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez, "Pitchers break." That might indicate that the Dodgers won't give Greinke the six-to-seven year deal that he's reportedly seeking. 

If that's the case, then perhaps Dickey is a better fit for the Dodgers. He's signed for next season after the Mets picked up his $5 million option for 2013. 

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Zack Greinke is expected to sign with the Dodgers.

However, to make a trade for Dickey worthwhile, Colletti will almost certainly have to agree to a contract extension before finalizing a deal.

The Dodgers didn't trade for Ryan Dempster because Colletti wasn't willing to give up top prospects for a two-month rental. Dickey would be with the Dodgers for a full season, so perhaps Colletti would be more willing to part with his young talent. 

According to the New York Daily News' John Harper, the Dodgers have made such an offer to the Mets for Dickey. Harper tweeted that Los Angeles proposed a deal involving top pitching prospect Zach Lee and shortstop Dee Gordon. 

Lee is the Dodgers' No. 1 prospect, according to Baseball America, and that is surely the sort of player the Mets want in exchange for Dickey. Gordon has the potential to be a starting shortstop as well, but he lost that job with the Dodgers because he doesn't hit or get on base enough. Without that, his speed can't be utilized. 

So that package probably isn't enough to interest the Mets. As Harper points out, the Mets want an outfielder in any prospective deal and probably would like a catcher as well. MLB.com beat writer Anthony DiComo doesn't think Lee and Gordon can made a trade happen either. 

These are the sorts of concerns Colletti doesn't have to deal with in regards to Greinke. He'll just cost money. A lot of money. But the Dodgers don't have to give up any players they project as future stars to get the top pitcher on the free-agent market. 

However, as I've written in another article, giving Greinke $150 million could cost the Dodgers even more money down the line when Clayton Kershaw's contract comes up after next season. Kershaw is even better than Greinke, coming off two outstanding years for Los Angeles. He could very well get a $200 million contract. 

Harry How/Getty Images
Can the Dodgers sign Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw?

But if Greinke doesn't get a mega-deal with the Dodgers and ends up signing for less money with another team, perhaps Kershaw doesn't break that $200 million threshold. Could that enter into the Dodgers' thinking at all? Do they want to avoid paying $350 million to two pitchers? 

Even if the Dodgers sign Dickey to a two-year contract—or the three-year deal that ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports the knuckleballer is seeking—he would likely cost around $12 million per season. That's half of what Greinke is seeking. And a three-year deal might be more in line with what Walter believes is appropriate for a pitcher. 

Dickey would also perhaps slot in more comfortably to the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Kershaw and in front of Josh Beckett.

That might not seem like a big deal from a baseball standpoint, but it might be a concern in terms of payroll. Greinke could be getting paid like an ace, yet be the No. 2 guy in the Dodgers rotation. This wouldn't be an issue with Dickey, who would clearly be the second starter with a shorter contract. 

Yet such matters just don't seem significant to the Dodgers, especially if their ownership is serious about building a championship contender and becoming the next superpower in MLB. Adding Greinke to their rotation is an impact move that could affect the balance of power in the National League.

The Dodgers have to go big to overtake the World Series champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Trading for Dickey would be a good move. Signing Greinke would be a great one. From all accounts, the Dodgers are looking to become great.

 

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