From a performance standpoint, there is no better time than for Greinke to be available. He is coming off one of the best pitching seasons in recent memory, going 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA with the Dodgers with 200 strikeouts in 222⅔ innings. He lasted at least six innings in all 32 starts, and put up 30 quality starts.
Greinke in 2016 will be entering his age-32 season, one year older than Jon Lester was last offseason when he signed with Chicago for six years, $155 million.
But there is risk in the deal. Pitchers like Greinke are quite rare, which is why they command such a high price tag, and risk is an accepted part of the deal.
Four pitchers in the relevant age cohorts produced 30+WAR values past the age of 32.
The quartet of 30-WAR pitchers in this six-year age frame are Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, and Kevin Brown, all basically Hall of Fame pitchers (Brown has a strong case but is destined for Veterans Committee). So a six-year deal for Greinke is a bet that he will continue a path toward Cooperstown.
There were also of course a large number of guys who burned out quickly. Stephen breaks it all down. His conclusion is common-sensible.
The takeaway here is what you might expect. In general, a pitcher is more likely to produce value from ages 30-35 than 32-37.
Of course, every pitcher is different and the Dodgers know more medically about Greinke than any other team. If there is any team built to absorb the risk of a six-year contract for a 32-year-old pitcher, it's the Dodgers. But it's also perfectly understandable for the front office to deem the risk too high.
Would you give Greinke a six-year contract extension? Personally I think he is a better risk than most 32-year-olds as his athleticism, command, and dedication give him an edge over many.
But holy crap, Zack Greinke is 32-years old? How is that even possible? He still seems like he's 26 to me.