NASHVILLE — In one of his many commercials, Buster Posey, decked out in his gear, tries to help a couple deliver a baby. For the second straight year, the Giants asked their franchise player to try and help deliver an ace.
Posey was involved when the Giants hosted Zack Greinke last month, but just as Jon Lester did the year before, Greinke chose to pitch elsewhere. The Giants pushed hard for Greinke and were competitive when it came to average annual salary, but the length of the deal became a sticking point. Greinke got six years and $206.5 million from the Diamondbacks after the Giants and Dodgers limited their offers to five years.
“He was able to get six years, which we were having a tough time with,” vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean told CSN Bay Area.
Sabean said Greinke’s agent, Casey Close, brings a “very thorough” and “very tough” mindset, and Greinke himself was said to cover all his bases. The Cy Young runner-up came to San Francisco without his agent, which is rare for free agents, and met with a Giants contingent that included Posey, team president Larry Baer, general manager Bobby Evans and manager Bruce Bochy. Several other members of the front office attended the meeting, including a couple who are the organization’s leading experts on advanced analytics.
By all accounts, Greinke blew the group away. He’s known to be extremely hands-on, researching an organization’s minor league system, salary structure and future prospects. Greinke was said to be particularly enamored with a young, homegrown infield that could have been in place during the entire length of the contract proposed by the Giants.
Sabean said he’s not sure how close the Giants ultimately got to signing Greinke, noting that Close, who keeps a tight lid on negotiations and loathes leaks, got the Giants’ best, the Dodgers’ best, and then involved a Diamondbacks team that may not have been in the running from the start. He said the Diamondbacks gave “more of a sweet spot deal.”
The Diamondbacks followed the Greinke deal by paying a heavy price in a trade for fellow right-hander Shelby Miller. It’s a flurry that will make life tougher on the Giants, but the Diamondbacks have earned Sabean’s respect.
“I really appreciate their aggressiveness,” he said. “We all know (Diamondbacks executive) Tony La Russa is a smart guy and he’s not there on vacation. They have some wherewithal. They’re a luxury tax-revenue sharing team and they have a billion dollar TV contract.”
Sabean said that kind of aggressive move is good for baseball, and earlier -- in an interview with MLB Network -- he noted that while the Giants didn’t get Greinke, the Diamondbacks deal was still good for Sabean’s team.
“The one thing we appreciate is that he’s not with the Dodgers,” Sabean said.