In sizing up the National League West, the Arizona Diamondbacks had two choices. Either find a way to solve the Dodgers’ nearly unbeatable duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke or come up with the cash to break it up.
Arizona chose the latter, and in the span of 12 hours, convinced the free-agent Greinke to spurn L.A. for a six-year, $206.5-million contract. Not only did the D-Backs manage to significantly weaken the division champs, they added Greinke to a rotation fortified by the blockbuster for Shelby Miller, a trade that cost them two former first-rounders, including Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft.
Greinke and Miller now join Patrick Corbin to create a dangerous front three for the D-Backs, and they also have one of the game’s most lethal bats in Paul Goldschmidt, who’s finished second in the MVP balloting twice in three years. Goldschmidt’s 1.005 OPS last season trailed only Bryce Harper (1.109) and Joey Votto (1.000).
A.J. Pollock was slowed by elbow soreness for much of spring training, and he needs to be healthy for Arizona to have a good shot at the division crown. The D-Backs also made a late-winter trade to get the Brewers’ Jean Segura, and they’re hoping the shortstop can revive his 2013 form (44 SBs, 12 HRs, .752 OPS) in the desert.
With 2016 being an even year, a World Series can’t be ruled out for the Giants, who won the Fall Classic in ’10, ’12 and ’14. And to double down, they gave big money to a pair of former aces with something to prove: Johnny Cueto ($130M) and Jeff Samardzija ($90M). Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik anchor a plucky homegrown infield while Buster Posey is a budding Hall of Famer.
Money can’t buy happiness or health, and the Dodgers have been short on both since losing to the Mets last October. Half the roster seems to be recovering from surgery of some kind, and L.A. lost starter Brett Anderson for a minimum of three months because of a back repair. Andre Either also is out until mid-June with a fractured shin.
After the ’15 makeover blew up in his face, GM A.J. Preller shifted gears this winter, laying off the free agents and making a flurry of rebuilding moves, like trading Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox for four top prospects. Call it a less-quick fix.
The Rockies spent $27.5 million to bring Gerardo Parra to Coors Field, a place he should do some damage, along with Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado. Alas, offense is never a problem with the Rockies. Everything else is.
ALL THE BEST
Manager: Bruce Bochy, S.F.
GM: Andrew Friedman, L.A.
Everyday player: Paul Goldschmidt, Ariz.
Hitter: Paul Goldschmidt, Ariz.
Leadoff hitter: Denard Span, S.F.
Baserunner: Charlie Blackmon, Colo.
Most exciting: A.J. Pollock, Ariz.
Infielder: Nolan Arenado, Colo.
Outfielder: A.J. Pollock, Ariz.
Catcher: Buster Posey, S.F.
Starter: Zack Greinke, Ariz.
Setup: Pedro Baez, L.A.
Closer: Kenley Jansen, L.A.
Home uniforms: Dodgers
Ballpark atmosphere: AT&T Park