Zack Greinke signed a contract that made him — at the time — the highest-paid right-handed pitcher ever this offseason (Felix Hernandez has since topped him). The money, Greinke told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports quite candidly, was the biggest factor in his decision to sign with the Dodgers. However, multiple sources indicated to Heyman that Greinke gave the Rangers an opportunity to top the Dodgers' final offer before agreeing to his six-year, $147MM contract. Greinke made an offer to the Rangers, but Texas elected to counter-offer rather than accept it.
According to Heyman, the Rangers and Dodgers were in a "near-dead heat" on the main terms of the contract, but the Rangers wouldn't budge on giving Greinke an opt-out clause after three seasons. Beyond that, Greinke told Heyman that he vastly prefers National League baseball to the American League version:
"It's boring watching American League games to me,'' Greinke said. “With the Angels we had (Mike) Trout, (Albert) Pujols, (Mark) Trumbo, (Kendrys) Morales and (Torii) Hunter, but it wasn't as much fun as watching Milwaukee's team. There's much more strategy."
Heyman also writes that Greinke met with Dodgers officials himself before completing his deal with the team. The former No. 6 overall pick in the draft has long been fascinated by free agency. He turned down a trade to the Nationals that would have come with a $100MM extension a little more than two years ago in part because he didn't think the Nationals were ready to win, but also because he was too fascinated by free agency:
“I wanted to see it. If it was going to be only one year for $1 million, I wanted to see for myself,'' he said.
As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, Greinke's $147MM contract is the third-largest contract ever signed by a pitcher, with only Hernandez and CC Sabathia ranking ahead of him (he topped Cole Hamels by $3MM). Candidates to displace Greinke from the Top 3 in the next couple of years include Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. However, with three dominant seasons, Greinke could enter free agency again as a 32-year-old and position himself for another hefty contract that would extend into his late 30s.