Righty Jordan Zimmermann is one of the Dodgers’ “top targets” among free agent starters, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (Twitter links). That shouldn’t be read as a shift of focus away from Zack Greinke, he adds, so much as an indication of the team’s affinity for Zimmermann.
That report comes on the heels of another suggesting that the Giants could be a “formidable threat” to land Greinke. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes, San Francisco is at least creating an impression in the marketplace that it is prepared for a serious pursuit of the talented — but less than youthful — veteran starter. Of course, the Giants are also said to be doing some diligence on David Price.
It’s always intriguing to consider these two division rivals competing over a player, but in truth the connection goes beyond the fact that only one can win the NL West. Los Angeles probably has more free agent spending capacity than any team in baseball right now — whether or not it chooses to use it — while their neighbors to the north seemingly saved their hefty war chest for this winter’s strong group of free agents. And, of course, both have obvious needs in the rotation.
One year ago, it wouldn’t have been surprising at all to expect to debate the relative merits of these two pitchers. At that point, Zimmermann was coming off of a season in which he looked like an improving, top-of-the-rotation arm, while Greinke was good but obviously not getting any younger.
Things have changed quite a bit in the meantime, though. The 29-year-old Zimmermann has lost some luster, while Greinke turned in a season for the ages. Of course, there’s an argument to be made that perceptions and recency bias could be clouding the situation, but it seems clear at this point that Greinke will out-earn his younger competitor.
All told, it remains far too early to get any kind of a reasonable read of the market. There’s arguably been more chatter surrounding Greinke than other top arms — it’s mostly been crickets, in particular, regarding Johnny Cueto — but as of yet there’s nothing to suggest any sort of clarity. Indeed, if anything, these reports serve only to confirm the fluidity at the top of the pitching market.