As we all take some time to stop and think about all of our military veterans and current troops worldwide on this Remembrance/Veterans Day, the baseball hot stove continues to boil, full of some truth, but primarily rumors. This was especially true this morning when it was released that, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, the Jays have inquired about the availability of SP Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals.
In 220 innings this year, Greinke was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA, while striking out 181. While it’s definitely different from his American League Cy Young Award winning season the year before, he clearly showed this year that he still has electric stuff. With Zack Greinke, it’s fairly certain to understand what you get if you manage to snag him in a trade: he rarely gives up home runs (career 0.9 HR/9), displays great control (career 2.3 BB/9), and has the ability to strike hitters out by overpowering them (career 7.6 K/9). You also get durability with Greinke, as he’s pitched at least 202 innings and made at least 32 starts in each of the last three seasons. With all that being said, he would no doubt be a solid addition to Jays’ 2011 rotation and beyond, but hopefully Anthopoulos does not trade for him and here’s why.
While the Royals are legitimately listening to offers for Greinke, their asking price for their ace is the troublesome part. According to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, Royals GM Dayton Moore has very specific criteria he wants met before he deals his ace. For starters, they need a bunch of “front-line, winning, quality players” in return, and then at least one of those players has to be a pitcher capable of becoming the next Zack Greinke within a few years, as well as the package being like the four-for-one type that blew the Rangers away when they dealt Mark Teixeira to the Braves. All in all, the Royals must feel like they “won” the deal.
What does that mean for the Jays? It likely means a package of at least 2 MLB/MLB ready starting pitchers (one of whom must apparently develop into a Cy Young Award winning ace), an MLB/MLB ready position player (something the Jays are tight on already), and likely one of our better prospects from the low minors. I’m not going to go as far as to name a potential package, but names like Drabek, Stewart, Cecil, Arencibia, Thames, Perez, Alvarez, and even Snider have all come up.
Obviously the Royals have to ask for a lot on any Greinke deal because if he gets moved, the return will be the biggest contributor to their rebuilding efforts in Kansas City. Greinke is good and, to some, even one of the elite pitchers in the AL. However, it is very tough to see any team in a Greinke deal give up more than what was given up for Cliff Lee (any of the 3 times) or Roy Halladay, let alone the Jays being the team that does.
Trading for Greinke would go directly against Anthopoulos’ well publicized philosophy of acquiring young, controllable players in order to build for a period of sustainable success. He would be giving away up to 6 years (more on prospects in the minors) of team control on EACH of the four included players, for only two years of Greinke, which jump to a cool $13,500,000 for each of the 2011 and 2012 seasons. That is quite a steep price, one that is for sure not worth it even if Greinke has another campaign as good as his Cy Young Award winning season.
Obviously not all of the Jays’ prospects are going to play in The Show, and Anthopoulos has publicly said that he is not against trading prospects for Major League talent, but our trade chips would be better used in a trade for improving an area of need (1B, 3B) rather than adding to an area of surplus (SP). The young Jays rotation tied for 7th in the AL in quality starts last year, which was definitely respectable considering the revolving door of a #5 starter the Jays had all season. A rotation of Marcum, Romero, Morrow, Cecil, and Drabek for at least Opening Day is still exciting, and is ideal for a young team looking watch their players mature even more while building on an impressive 2010. That’s not to say that the rotation I mentioned above will be set in stone for 2011, as anything can happen over an offseason, but there would definitely be no complaints if that were the case come Opening Day 2011.
The flip side of all of this is that Anthopoulos is just doing his due diligence and feeling things out. While inquiring about Greinke he could be exploring three team trade possibilities, or even just taking notes on who other teams are willing to give up to get him. The Red Sox and Rangers, for starters, have both been mentioned as being interested in acquiring Greinke and both have quality farm systems with the kind of players the Jays would want to target. Also, specifically with the Royals, discussing Greinke is an opportunity to transition into discussing Alex Gordon, who the Jays have also been linked to inquiring about (more on that in an upcoming article).
Greinke is good, and the Jays rotation would obviously look stellar with him leading the charge, but at what cost? Kansas City’s mammoth asking price just deters me from even contemplating the deal, but then again this could just one of the many ways Alex Anthopoulos kicks the tires and explores what players are in play on the trade front.