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Mixed messages & smoke screens surround Dodgers' pursuit of Zack Greinke

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"If I put my glove over my mouth I can pretend to be secretive too."
"If I put my glove over my mouth I can pretend to be secretive too."
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- With the Red Sox signing David Price to a record seven-year, $217 million deal, there is one fewer high-end starting pitcher on the market for the Dodgers. While the baseball operations department remains tight-lipped on specificity, ownership partner Magic Johnson left no doubt that Zack Greinke remains atop the Dodgers' wish list.

"We all want [Greinke] back," Johnson told reporters after a news conference introducing new manager Dave Roberts at Dodger Stadium. "He's our number one priority in the offseason."

Greinke, who finished second in the National League Cy Young Award voting after going 19-3 and leading the majors in ERA (1.66) and WHIP (0.844), is said to be choosing between the Dodgers and Giants, per multiple reports.

The Dodgers' current starting rotation includes left-handers Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson and Alex Wood, with Hyun-jin Ryu a wild card coming off major shoulder surgery who might not be ready to open the season, and Brandon McCarthy expected back from Tommy John surgery around the All-Star break in 2016, plus stashable depth in Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Joe Wieland, Zach Lee and others.

"As we sit here today, we're in a much better spot in terms of depth at Triple-A than we were last year," president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "Adding one starter is something that's critically important, but adding two would depend on other factors."

But Friedman wouldn't specifically address whether the Dodgers were interested in or have even talked with Greinke or his representatives, even standing 20 feet away from Johnson meeting a different group of reporters saying Greinke was the club's main target.

"The free agent market when you look back over time hasn't necessarily resulted in helping teams win in October. There's just not that high of a correlation between them," Friedman said. "On one hand by making a big splash you might win the winter headlines, but more often than not you aren't having a parade at the end of October.

"It's less about how much of an investment as it is looking at each individual player and how they help you win games and fit in to a payroll landscape."

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Greinke's representatives expected to hear back from the Red Sox by Tuesday night — before Price signed — and that with Price signed a Greinke decision could be coming soon. But Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi didn't sound like someone rushed by the current pitching market.

"We have enough alternatives in free agency and the trade market, that there's no time pressure on our part to land a starting pitcher," Zaidi said.