Diamondbacks lure Greinke to desert with huge contract

The D-backs beat out the division rival Dodgers and Giants to unexpectedly win the Greinke sweepstakes Friday night, acquiring Zack Greinke. He reached an agreement on a $206.5 million, six-year contract, sources told The Associated Press.

Pitcher will have highest average annual salary in MLB history

Zack Greinke stunned the baseball world by signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks, a contract that will have the highest AAV in MLB history at $34.4 million U.S. per season. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks unveiled their snazzy new uniforms one day, then landed a new ace to wear them the next.

Surprise! Zack Greinke is coming to the desert.

The D-backs beat out the division rival Dodgers and Giants to unexpectedly win the Greinke sweepstakes Friday night, acquiring the free agent ace they hope will get the franchise contending again — and fast. He reached an agreement on a $206.5 million U.S., six-year contract, sources told The Associated Press.

The major league ERA leader and runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award helped lead the Dodgers to their third straight division title this season. Then, the 32-year-old righty opted out of his contract, leaving $71.5 million on the table — and wound up with the richest deal, by yearly average, in baseball history.

The sources spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because there hadn't been an official announcement. Fox Sports first reported an agreement.

Greinke was the second former AL Cy Young winner to get a mega-contract this week. David Price joined the Boston Red Sox for $217 million over seven years. The moves came as teams prepared to head this weekend to the winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.

Greinke's new deal contains deferred money. The $34.4 million average will be the sport's highest, topping Price's $31 million.

Earlier this off-season, pitcher Johnny Cueto turned down a $120 million offer from the Diamondbacks after he helped Kansas City win the World Series and became a free agent.

Instead, the Diamondbacks reeled in an even bigger prize. They had money to spend — last February, they signed a TV deal with Fox Sports Arizona for more than $1.5 billion over 20 years.

Greinke's contract gave him the flexibility to find a new home. He was in prime position, too, after setting a career high for wins by going 19-3 and posting a 1.66 ERA that was the best in the majors in 20 years.

Dodgers left hanging

In December 2012, Greinke signed a $147 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers that included an opt-out clause. He exercised it and walked away from a whopping amount over the next three years.

"We made a very strong offer to retain Zack but clearly he found a deal that fit better for him and his family," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a statement. "We are now hard at work on our alternatives."

Out of the playoffs since 2011, the Diamondbacks finished 79-83 last season, 13 games behind the West champion Dodgers and also trailing the Giants, who have won three of the last six World Series.

Arizona scored the second-most runs in the NL last season, but was thin in the pitching department — Diamondbacks starters threw the second-fewest innings in the league.

The Diamondbacks tried this season to clear salary. In June, they traded pitcher Bronson Arroyo to Atlanta to further reduce their payroll.

"It is more of what we are trying to do. The money is definitely important," Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said at the time. "We said that we are going to try to do what we can to promote our young pitchers but also give ourselves a chance to make some savings so that we can have an opportunity to do things at a later date."

On Friday night, they did a really big thing. After revealing futuristic uniforms for 2016 a day earlier, Arizona found its new big star to wear one.​

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