The Implications Of Zack Greinke’s Injury

When the Dodgers spent $147MM on Zack Greinke this offseason, they were expecting 33 starts per season of an ace-caliber pitcher. Instead, Greinke will now find himself on the shelf for a significant portion of time following a brawl in the Dodgers-Padres game that broke out after he hit Carlos Quentin in the shoulder with a pitch.

Two things are clear here. The move has serious financial and roster implications for the Dodgers, and Quentin is a lock to be suspended. What does that mean, specifically, for the involved parties? It depends on how long Greinke is out for, first of all, which has yet to be announced. ESPN's Jayson Stark notes that recent history shows this type of injury has a recovery time of anywhere from one to three months (All Twitter links). Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis broke his collarbone in late February and is hoping to return in early May. Clint Barmes broke his collarbone in 2005 and was on the shelf for three months. The only pitcher Stark could find who suffered the injury was Chris Bosio, who missed a month.

Greinke is earning $17MM in the 2013 season, which is 182 calendar days long. Assuming a timetable of 30 to 90 days (roughly one to three months), the Dodgers figure to be out somewhere between $2.8MM and $8.4MM of this year's investment in Greinke. That's a sizeable chunk of salary, although they could have an insurance policy on the contract that will cover a portion of the injury.

This also means that the Dodgers' former surplus of starting pitching has likely been sorted out for the time being. With Aaron Harang now in Seattle, the Dodgers can place one of Ted Lilly or Chris Capuano in the rotation, with the other serving as a long reliever. It seems likely that it will be Lilly who is placed in the rotation; MLB.com's Ken Gurnick recently noted that he's been building up arm strength to throw 90+ pitches again and the Dodgers are concerned about how frequent warm-ups would affect his "delicate shoulder." Capuano, meanwhile, has already been in the 'pen for the early portion of the season. Both hurlers figure to be firmly off the trade market now.

As far as Quentin goes, the left fielder signed a three-year, $27MM extension with the Padres last year and is slated to make $9.5MM this season. In other words, Quentin is paid just over $52,000 per day during the season. So multiply that number by the amount of days in his eventual unpaid suspension, and it becomes a costly confrontation for him on a personal level as well.

Matt Kemp and Jerry Hairston Jr. also played roles in the altercation. Kemp was particularly vocal during the fray and eventually pursued Quentin after the game, leading to a confrontation that is chronicled here by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. Hairston charged toward the Padres' dugout after the field had been cleared, later explaining to reporters that an undisclosed Padres player was mocking Greinke's injury. It's unclear at this time if there will be any punishment handed out for Kemp and Hairston, but presumably they're in line for fines as opposed to suspensions.


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