The Los Angeles Dodgers reached a record contract Saturday with starter Zack Greinke, agreeing to a six-year, $147 million deal. The $24.5 million average annual value is the highest ever for a pitcher on a multiyear contract, surpassing C.C. Sabathia’s $24.4 million average annual salary with the Yankees.
The agreement was confirmed by a person with direct knowledge of the deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Dodgers had not announced it.
Greinke, 29, was an American League Cy Young Award winner with the Kansas City Royals in 2009. Since then, as he approached free agency, he has bounced to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Angels in trades, succeeding in both spots.
Greinke won 16 games for Milwaukee in 2011, helping lead the Brewers to their first division title in 29 years. Last season, he was 15-5 with a 3.48 earned run average between the Brewers and the Angels, with 200 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings.
With the Dodgers, Greinke joins a team flush with cash from expanding cable television revenue and an aggressive new ownership led by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and the Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
Last season, as the Dodgers emerged from bankruptcy under their previous owner, Frank McCourt, their opening-day payroll was about $105 million. Now, it has more than doubled, to more than $200 million.
After trading with Miami last July for shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers rocked the industry in August by trading with Boston for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and two other highly paid players the Red Sox were eager to unload — pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford. In October, they signed another summer acquisition, closer Brandon League, to a three-year, $22.5 million extension.
For a month, the Dodgers stayed relatively quiet, but that ended on Saturday with their commitment to Greinke, an excellent starter, but one who may not even pitch opening day for the Dodgers. The team’s ace is the left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who is not eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season.
By then, the Dodgers will hope to have something to show for all their spending. They have not reached the World Series since 1988, the longest stretch without a pennant in the club’s rich history. Their longtime rivals, the San Francisco Giants, have won two of the last three World Series.
With Greinke, the Dodgers have shown again that they will spend whatever they can to unseat the Giants. Even before the deal, manager Don Mattingly understood that the ever-growing payroll was a major part of their story.
‘‘There’s going to be a lot of expectations, and I think we’ve just got to be ready for that, and just kind of take it on,’’ Mattingly said last week at the winter meetings in Nashville. ‘‘I’m sure every article, just about, that’s written will have some kind of note on our payroll. Everything you see now, you end up seeing the payroll.’’