Zack Greinke Demands Trade, KC Will Grant His Wish

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Royals fans have to be in disbelief that they will once again watch an established superstar leave their wonderful stadium. Who’s next to leave KC, Billy Butler? It’s overwhelmingly evident that if the Royals are ever going to turn their franchise around, they’re going to have to do it with a ton of top prospects graduating from the minors simultaneously and succeeding quickly. Thankfully for Royals fans, they may be getting their wish shortly as Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Aaron Crow, and Christian Colon may all be graduating within 2 years of one another. But, as we wait to see these players in The Show, the Royals are once again forced to trade one of their best, as Zack Greinke has demanded to be traded, according to Jon Paul Morosi.

Greinke was so put off by the way things were going with his agent representation at SFX that he left them for CAA’s tandem of Jeff Berry and Casey Close. This will entirely shift negotiations and allow for a fresh communication like to be established between Zack and stakeholders of this transaction. For those who want to know more about CAA, here is an article written in 2008, shortly after they were created in 2006. In indicates both their overall success in four major team sports, but also highlights that they were fairly level with the rest of the representation initially in MLB. They have grown to the point of representing superstars like Derek Jeter, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, and even Lebron James. The Sports Business Journal listed their executives, Howard Nuchow and Michael Levine, as the 36th most influential people in sports, just one spot below Hal Steinbrenner.

So, now that we know the type of representation Greinke will have (remember Lebron’s debacle and Derek’s recent woes in negotiations with the Yankees?), we can expect the process to get messier for the Royals, not easier. Not only have they lost their bargaining power by stating that they could meet his demand and trade Zack, but they now have to deal with representation that will demand some changes be made to where Zack can or can’t go, and where he will and won’t go. We also need to remember that CAA represented Roy Halladay when he made the same demand to be traded from Toronto, making them familiar with the process and also likely to see the process through to the end.

The Royals are apparently looking to strengthen the middle of the field with this trade opportunity. Let’s say that reports are correct and that the Jays won’t include either Travis Snider or Kyle Drabek in any deal. Can a deal still be made?

Let’s start the process of determining that by putting SS Adeiny Hechavarriain the offer. With top Royals prospect apparently more of a fit for 2B, Adeiny could be their answer at SS, while the Jays could keep Yunel Escobar in the position and see whether newly drafted Christopher Hawkins can develop into an every day SS down the road. It would provide a future infield of Eric Hosmer, Christian Colon, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Mike Moustakas for the Royals. Not a bad all around infield if you ask me, particularly when you consider Adeiny’s strong defensive abilities.

Now that we have a SS included in an offer, how about shoring up the CF position? The Jays could include either Jacob Marisnick or Darin Mastroianni in a deal, with the former being the more capable and attractive of the two to the Royals. Marisnick has 5-tool potential and could arrive as early as the end of 2012 and was recently ranked as the 10th best Jays prospectby Baseball America. I would hate to see the Jays deal Jacob, but it may be necessary due to the high demands of the Royals. If the Jays were willing to include a highly rated catching prospect, however, they may be able to convince the Royals to take on Mastroianni instead, which is food for thought.

So now that we’ve sent a SS and CF, the Royals would still be looking for more, because Marisnick and Hechavarria probably don’t add up to Snider and Drabek in the minds of the Royals. They’ll also want some pitching to go along with the hitters, so let’s include the man that Baseball America ranked as the 5th best Jays prospect, Zach Stewart.

Would this be enough? I’m not certain, but I have a real hard time imagining many other teams matching up so well with the Royals. The Jays would have Anthony Gose coming up to take over CF anyhow, so trading one of their CF or RF prospects doesn’t weaken the franchise too badly. And we all know how many pitching prospects the Jays added over the last year, so losing Zach Stewart, although a serious loss to be sure, would be absorb-able. It’s likely that the Royals would want 1 or more pieces to be added, in the lower end of the minors, but I consider this offer to be very fair.

The offer could become something in the ballpark of:

SP/RP Zach Stewart, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, CF Jacob Marisnick, C Brian Jeroloman, and another SP prospect such as Joel Carreno, in return for Zack Greinke.

Now, the big questions for Jays fans are, 1) should the Jays make such an offer, 2) will they make such an offer, and 3) how would it change the 2011 season? I’ll take these on in order.

1) Should they make such an offer? I think they should at least consider it, because as anyone in baseball knows, you can never have enough pitching. Do I believe the price is too steep? For sure, no doubt about it. A pitcher’s arm can fall off at any time, and an injury can occur with any pitch. But, as many people in baseball would say, prospects are sometimes just that – prospects. There’s no guarantee that any of these prospects will be an impact player to the caliber of Zack Greinke. As Alex Anthopolous has stated all along, what he wants is the top players at all positions. Will Marisnick ever be a top 10 right-fielder or center-fielder? Will Adeiny Hechavarria ever be a top 10 SS? Will Zach Stewart ever develop into a closer or dominant starter? These are the questions the Jays would have to look at if they keep by their need to have top players at each position. Obtaining Zack Greinke would arguably give them one of the best 10 arms in all of baseball. Is the price too steep when we consider this?

We just saw what a top 10 pitcher costs in terms of salary when Cliff Leesigned for an average of $25 million per season. Greinke, on the other hand, would be making $13.5 million per season through 2011 and 2012. At that rate he is a bargain, but this cost has to be added to the list of prospects the Jays would have to give up to land him. It makes the price close to, if not more, than the cost of signing Cliff Leebecause you lose the cheap and controllable time of such highly rated players. Is Greinke for 2 seasons really worth 3 top prospects and $13.5 million per season? I certainly don’t think he is. Not by a long shot.

However, another way to look at it is as follows: the Jays deal Roy Halladayto the Phillies and ended up with Michael Taylor (Brett Wallace), Kyle Drabek, and Travis d’Arnaud. Drabek is #1 on the Jays list of prospects today according to Baseball America (BA), Wallace was #1 in 2010 and has reached MLB with HOU with a low rate of success, and d’Arnaud is rated as the #4 prospect on the list heading into 2011. If we consider that the Jays would be giving up a #5, #10, and an #11 or 12 ranked prospect for Zack (again, according to BA), we have to believe that they’d be interested in making such a deal. I’m not saying they would do it, as I have no idea what their evaluations of each player are, but you have to think that they’d at least consider it.

2) Will they make an offer?I believe they will, but I’m not sure it’ll top other offers or meet the demands of the Royals. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear from a ton of angry Royals fans if Alex Anthopoulos does pull this one off, however, as he’s surely to pull the trigger only when the price for the ace is tolerable for the franchise. The offer I could envision the Jays sending to KC would be something like this:

SP/RP Zach Stewart, SP Henderson Alvarez, SP Joel Carreno, CF Darin Mastroianni, and C Carlos Perez. A more pitching heavy offer, but one that offers the Royals a lot of talent on the mound including one that is MLB ready. The Jays are very strong in the catching department, making Carlos Pereza very nice trade piece despite his very high ceiling. The only reason I made the offer so high was that it is this type of offer that will land the likes of Greinke, and not much less.

3) What would it mean for 2011? If Zack Greinke were acquired by the Jays, it would improve the chances of the Jays sneaking in to the Wild Card spot by a good margin. Even when we consider the loss of Shaun Marcum, to be replaced by Zack Greinke if this trade were to occur, we have to remember that all of the other Jays starters are extremely young and now have a full year of experience to use. The confidence they now have is much higher than it was in 2010, and a better season from some of those pitchers, the addition of Kyle Drabekat the back of the rotation, and the addition of a true #1 in Greinke could add at least a few wins to 2010’s total.

I would also add that the outfield and 3B defense in 2011 should be better than it was in 2010. With Rajai Davis covering a ton more ground than any LF the Jays had in 2010, and Jose Bautista manning 3B (for now) instead of Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays pitchers should get a lot more help defensively from the left side of the field. This should in turn lead to more quick innings, fewer errors, and ultimately more chances to win a few more games than in 2010.

The possible rotation if the trade occurs as listed above would be:

Zack GreinkeRicky RomeroBrandon MorrowBrett CecilKyle Drabek or Marc Rzepczynski

It would also have the added bonus of having Jesse Litsch as a possible sub-in when required.

When I posted an articlestating that the Greinke rumors would heat up after the Cliff Leetrade, I didn’t know that he would demand a trade and change agents. Now that I have that information, the situation changes slightly in that it is almost a foregone conclusion that he will be traded prior to, or during, the 2011 season. The Blue Jays, Nationals, Rangers, Mets, Angels, and Brewers continue to be the leading candidates for his services. I would put the Jays in the top 2 in terms of the goods they have to offer in return for him, but am still unsure that they trust his 2011 performance would be great enough to warrant dealing so much talent for him.

As it stands today, the Jays rotation is not only the cheapest in the A.L. East, it is also the youngest and most controllable over the long term. It is a deep rotation with a lot of prospects jumping up the ranks to push those with the club to perform better. There is no critical need to pursue a SP at this point, hence the deal of Shaun Marcum to the Brewers. Therefore, I expect that Alex Anthopoulos will stick to his guns and will see whether or not the Royals asking price comes down to meet what the Jays are willing to pay.  Regardless of how many teams are “in the hunt” for Greinke, the Jays will not overbid for a single player, not with AA at the helm.

Am I curious about what Zack would look like in a Jays uniform and whether or not he would find his ace form of 2009 once again? Definitely. But I certainly hope that any deal the Jays could make for him doesn’t backfire with Greinke returning to his anxious ways, because if that happens the costs of the transaction could negatively affect the franchise for a long period of time.

Zack Greinke and his new agents will certainly be making noise over the next few weeks. I’m actually thankful for this because it makes the off season that much more interesting! With the Red Sox making what seems like a new significant acquisition every day, I would expect the Jays to make a few of their own before the new year arrives. The pressure to improve the Jays continues for Alex Anthopoulos, and now that Greinke and his group have made their demands public, it stands to reason that AA will be at the front of the line and aggressive in the pursuit of such a talented pitcher.

Enjoy the Zack Greinke coverage, as it should entertaining as we head into the holiday season!

– MG

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Tags: Adeiny Hechavarria Brandon Morrow Brett Cecil Carlos Perez Darin Mastroianni Edwin Encarnacion Henderson Alvarez Jesse Litsch Joel Carreno Jose Bautista Kyle Drabek Marc Rzepczynski Rajai Davis Ricky Romero Travis D'Arnaud

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