Zack on deck.

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This report would be
much longer if this were a Royals newsletter.


One league executive tells ESPN’s Buster Olney: “I have no
doubt they’re going to trade him this winter.”


are the Royals.


Him?  Zack.


It makes too much sense to get all skeptical or
grain-of-salt on the idea.


For one, Cliff Lee will only choose one team, and Zack Greinke,
who didn’t turn 27 until the day before Texas eliminated the Yankees to earn
its first World Series berth, is on at least one tier above Jorge De La Rosa
and Carl Pavano, who stand fairly well alone as the next-best free agent
starters on the market, a crop that’s pretty thin overall, especially with Ted
Lilly, Kiroki Kuroda, and Jake Westbrook having re-signed with their 2010 clubs. 


It would make sense from a timing standpoint for the Royals
to take advantage of that.


Greinke is locked up through 2012.  Kansas City could trade him a year from now, but
at the moment that winter’s free agent crop looks stronger than this one: Mark
Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, Joel Pineiro, Wandy Rodriguez, and, yes, C.J. Wilson could
be on the market after the 2011 season. 
So could Chris Carpenter and Roy Oswalt, if St. Louis and Philadelphia decline
$15 million and $16 million options for 2012.


Even if interested teams evaluate Greinke ahead of, say, a
healthy Pineiro, the choice between trading two or three blue-chip prospects and
another couple pieces for one year of Greinke on the one hand, and getting
three or four years of Pineiro without having to forfeit anything but a draft
pick?  Some teams, particularly those
whose farm strength would be turned upside down after a Greinke trade, might
choose the latter.


There’s also this: Kansas City has the best farm system in
baseball.  Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin
Goldstein has already said so. 
Baseball America
probably will when it delivers its farm system rankings later this winter. 
BA‘s J.J. Cooper said
this week
that first baseman Eric Hosmer, catcher Wil Myers, third baseman Mike
Moustakas, and lefthanders John Lamb and Mike Montgomery are “the best top five
among all of this year’s Top 10s, and that will be reflected when the Top 100
comes out.”


But none has reached Kansas City, and it’s unlikely any will
start the 2011 season with the Royals, with the possible exception of
Moustakas.  The other four are expected
to begin the year in AA.  Best case
scenario, they all arrive in Kansas City sometime or another in 2012, when Greinke
will be riding out the final year of his current contract, before leaving for
monster money that the Royals won’t be able to afford paying, just as their own
window of contention draws within sight.


Olney was told by “[a]t least two rival GMs” that “Texas is
the best match for Kansas City” should the Royals choose to trade Greinke
now.  Joel Sherman of the
New York Post
wrote: “The team to watch is the Rangers, particularly if Lee goes to the
Yankees.”  T.R. Sullivan of, in a
Tuesday article whose subhead reads: “Club trying to land starter, could use
deep farm system as bait,” doesn’t mention Greinke by name but writes: “The
Rangers would rather look at an impact pitcher [than a mid-rotation type].  With their deep farm system and their new
financial resources, they no longer have to settle for second- and third-tier
material when making offseason decisions.”


Unless Florida shockingly relents and discusses Josh
Johnson, or Seattle takes the public relations risk of trading a second ace to
Texas in the space of half a year, Greinke is who Sullivan is talking about.


Remember also that Greinke has hinted at an aversion to
playing in a massive market, and there have been reports that the Yankees and
Red Sox are among the 15 teams his contract allows him to block trades to over
the next year.  There are teams out there
who can afford the $27 million he’ll earn the next two seasons.  But some of those teams won’t be able to get
around his 2011 no-trade clause.


And as we talked about last
, it would stand to reason that Greinke will push for a trade in July,
if not before, because after the 2011 season goes away, so does his no-trade clause,
meaning Kansas City would be able to ship him to New York or Boston or anyone
else next winter, or in July 2012, and he wouldn’t be able to prevent it.


The consensus among writers is that to trade for Greinke it
would take something similar to the packages it took for Texas to get Lee and
Philadelphia to get Roy Halladay (or Atlanta to get Mark Teixeira), and in Kansas
City’s case probably one that’s heavy on young pitching.   


OK, here we go.


First, a quick rundown of the Greinke trade proposals I’ve thrown
out there the last two-and-a-half years (note that I wasn’t necessarily
advocating the trades for one side or the other, but instead imagining what it might
take for Texas to get a deal done):


June 20, 2008: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Eric Hurley, John
Mayberry Jr., and Warner Madrigal for Greinke (who was then 6-4, 3.33 for the
season, and 27-39, 4.40 for his career)


August 27, 2008: Saltalamacchia, Harrison or Hurley, Mayberry
or Nelson Cruz, Joaquin Arias, and the Royals’ choice of a lower-level pitching
prospect – Zach Phillips or Carlos Pimentel or Miguel De Los Santos or Geuris
Grullon or Julio Santana or Matt Nevarez – for Greinke and reliever Ramon


May 7, 2010: (1) Tommy Hunter or Martin Perez; (2) Wilmer
Font; (3-4) either Julio Borbon and Max Ramirez, or Cruz and Engel Beltre; (5) Leury
Garcia; and (6) Brennan Garr for Greinke and reliever Juan Cruz


Notice the stakes, at least in my baseless little exercise,
keep getting higher.




Look again at that peerless top five Royals prospects and
you’ll recognize where Kansas City is relatively deficient, developmentally: up
the middle, which is where Texas has killed it in the acquisition of minor
talent the last few years.  Yes, there’s
2010 first-rounder Christian Colon (number six on the
Royals list), and he’ll be fast-tracked, but there’s some thought that he’ll
eventually have to move from shortstop to second base.


How would you feel about: (1) Derek Holland; (2) Martin
Perez; and (3-4) either Jurickson Profar and Craig Gentry, or Leury Garcia and Engel
Beltre, for Greinke and out-of-options backup outfielder Gregor Blanco?


By the way, that story about Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan, and Chuck
Greenberg flying to Little Rock on Monday to have a very long lunch with Cliff
Lee and his wife and agent at the Copper Grill & Grocery may be wholly
unrelated to all the above, the idea of which fires me up to no end.





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Click the book cover for details on the 2011 Bound Edition
of the Newberg Report.




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(c) Jamey Newberg



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