It has been known for a while that the Kansas City Royals are shopping ace Zack Greinke around, but the price has always been considered a tad high. That makes sense, since the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner is the only legitimate trade chip the Royals possess and they could use him to get some major league-ready talent in return.
Now that Cliff Lee has shocked the world and spurned the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers to give the Philadelphia Phillies what could be the best pitching rotation in baseball history, several teams that weren’t looking at Greinke may now have to consider him a target.
As of today, count the Yankees and Rangers among those jumping in to the pursuit of the 27-year-old right-hander’s services. The problem for both teams is that they reportedly rank very low on Kansas City GM Dayton Moore’s list of potential trade partners, because they lack what the Royals are looking for.
Kansas City has a ton of pitching talent in their system. Guys like Mike Montgomery, Aaron Crow, Tim Melville, John Lamb and Danny Duffy may not be ready yet, but the Royals see them as key guys in the future. On top of that, Kansas City boasts a stud young first baseman in Eric Hosmer and a slugging third baseman in Mike Moustakas. The Royals also have a good hitting catcher in Wil Myers, who may actually end up in the outfield in the majors.
Therefore, Moore is looking for young up-the-middle players to fill out the system. A center fielder, shortstop and second baseman are what he’s trying to find, and a catcher if possible, since Myers likely won’t stick behind the plate.
The Yankees have young catchers (Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine) and a good infield prospect in Eduardo Nunez, but that’s really all that could entice the Royals in the minors. Brett Gardener could sweeten a deal, but that doesn’t appear to be enough to make Moore budge.
The Rangers also lack the major league-ready position prospects to make a deal happen. They have 17-year-old shortstop Jurickson Profar, but he’s years away from sniffing the big leagues.
As a result, teams like the Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays feel they have a legitimate shot at making a deal to get Greinke. The Milwaukee Brewers have also expressed interest, but they don’t appear to have the upper-level talent to get a deal done, and may have taken themselves out of the running when they sent top-prospect Brett Lawrie to Toronto in the Shaun Marcum deal.
Greinke is due to make $27 million over the next two years before he’s eligible for free agency, and is coming off a season in which he went 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Those aren’t bad numbers considering he was on a horrible team.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a team to watch in this pursuit as well. They have several good prospects and could even get a third-team into the mix if they were willing to part with center fielder Matt Kemp to net Greinke.
This has become the new focus of the offseason, since Moore is convinced he has to move Greinke now for the health of the franchise long-term.
We’ll keep you posted on what we’re hearing.