The Diamondbacks show they’re serious in signing Zack Greinke

AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

In November, the Diamondbacks reportedly offered free agent starter Johnny Cueto a six-year deal worth, which the right-hander rejected. Some suggested it was a P.R. move more than anything, to give fans the idea that they were serious about bringing in talent, then settle for a mid-tier starter like Mike Leake who wouldn’t cost them a draft pick and would come at a comparatively much cheaper price.

One day after unveiling some bold new uniforms, the Diamondbacks boldly signed National League Cy Young Award runner-up Zack Greinke to a six-year deal worth a reported $205M, which is the largest average annual value in MLB history. It is arguably the Diamondbacks’ biggest signing since inking Hall of Famer Randy Johnson to a contract 17 years ago.

Greinke finished this past season with an outstanding 19-3 record, a 1.66 ERA, a 0.844 WHIP, and a 200/40 K/BB ratio in 222 2/3 innings. He’s an instant upgrade to a rotation that currently harbors young talent in Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin, as well as Rubby De La Rosa and Chase Anderson.

Now that the Diamondbacks have forfeited their first-round draft pick, it is worth wondering if the club goes all-out in putting together a competitive ballclub for the 2016 season. Do they make a run at Jason Heyward or Yoenis Cespedes and put either player in a lineup that already includes perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and breakout outfielder A.J. Pollock? At 79-83, the Diamondbacks were that that far away from being considered a post-season contender last season. Greinke alone almost certainly brings them there, and another big free agent signing or trade acquisition could arguably make them NL West favorites heading into the 2016 season.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”