Los Angeles Dodgers: Could Zack Greinke Be Pitching in the NL West in 2011?

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Could Zack Greinke Be Pitching in the NL West in 2011?
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

When considering the quality of players on both the trading block and free agent market, starting pitcher Zack Greinke undoubtedly would be a perfect fit for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As the MLB Hot Stove is just beginning to heat up, there's really not much movement expected from the Dodgers, at least until Judge Scott Gordon reveals his decision in the McCourt divorce case.

Still, it's very important that Los Angeles remain active in preparing their roster for 2011, as there are several key dates approaching within the next four weeks.

The annual General Managers Meetings will be held in Orlando on November 16 and 17 followed by the Owners Meetings a day later. Among other things, these meetings act as an icebreaker of sorts to test the waters of the upcoming trade market.

The highlight of the Major League Baseball offseason is the Winter Meetings, which this year will be held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida from December 6-9. The Winter Meetings normally produce a handful of blockbuster player deals that set the stage for the remainder of the trade season.

Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti has already stated that he will be seeking out both a power bat and a quality starting pitcher to improve the Dodgers' roster heading into 2011, and for such moves to be productive, it's critical that Colletti be aggressive during these upcoming meetings in Florida.

In terms of upgrading the offense, there are quite a few potential moves that could be made. However, in the starting pitching department, one name seems like it would be an excellent match—Kansas City Royals righty Zack Greinke.

The Royals have already stated that they are prepared to move Greinke if the deal is right, and if the Dodgers are able to put together a proposal that is beneficial for both teams, Los Angeles would immediately boast a pitching staff that would be considered among the best in the National League.

With Greinke, the Dodgers would be acquiring a former All-Star and Cy Young Award winner, and at only 27 years of age, he shows that he can still light up the radar by touching 96 mph with his heater. When his slider is working properly, it almost makes opposing batters dizzy, and his 70 mph curveball comes out of his hand looking like a fastball.

His best assets are that he commands all his pitches extremely well to both sides of the plate and does not show a recognizable pitch pattern.

Outside of a few problems in 2006 and early in 2007, Greinke has been very durable. Over the course of the past three years Greinke has proved his endurance by recording at least 200 innings pitched per season

Greinke's salary for 2011 will be just over $13.5 million, which is almost identical to what the Dodgers paid Hiroki Kuroda in 2010. It is still unknown whether or not the Dodgers will offer Kuroda, 35, a contract to return next year.

Kansas City will likely need to be swept off their feet when talking a potential deal, yet when preparing a package, the Dodgers may find it very difficult to present an offer to the Royals' liking.

Sure, there's Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, but with Colletti already identifying the power department as a weakness, there's little chance that he will sacrifice what little deep threat the Dodgers already have.

Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw aren't going anywhere either, and Ted Lilly's new contract suggests that he's part of the Dodgers' long-term plan.

Then there's first baseman James Loney, who is still being criticized for a lack of power. Many still speculate, however, that with the right hitting coach, Loney will flourish in a hurry. With his glove already being among the best in the Majors, Loney could quickly become a star player if his long ball skills finally blossom.

Loney may not be attractive to the Royals, however. Kansas City boasts much pride in Billy Butler, their 24-year-old first baseman who is almost a clone of Loney—sans the defense. Butler hit .318 with 15 home runs, 45 doubles, 78 RBI and an .857 OPS in 2010.

The Royals seem set with the closer role as well with Joakim Soria. Soria recorded 43 saves for the Royals this year while posting a 1.78 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. Unless Kansas City wanted to use him as a setup man, Jonathan Broxton may not even be a valuable bargaining chip.

Rafael Furcal falls under the criteria for the 5/10 rule and probably wouldn't approve a trade to Kansas City anyway.

Casey Blake and Jamey Carroll are both past their prime playing days and seem like unlikely choices for a team wanting to build with youth.

Having acquired catcher Lucas May from the Dodgers just before the 2010 trade deadline, the Royals seem content with their positioning behind the dish.

So what's left?

The already sparse and very young Los Angeles Dodgers farm system.

Although very thin and unproven, the Dodgers' system boasts about a dozen gems that any team around baseball would be willing to snatch in a hurry.

In the pitching department, Chris Withrow, Aaron Miller, Ethan Martin and Allen Webster are very highly regarded by many scouts around the Majors. In terms of position players, Xavier Paul, Devaris "Dee" Gordon, Ivan DeJesus, Jerry Sands, Kyle Russell, Leon Landry and Trayvon Robinson headline an elite group of future stars.

So the question looms: Is Ned Colletti willing to potentially sacrifice the future of the Dodgers in an attempt to make Los Angeles contenders in 2011?

All that being said, before any possible deal begins to take shape, Zack Greinke's no-trade clause may prevent any type of deal with the Dodgers from occurring. As early as the weekend, Greinke is expected to let the Royals know the eight to 10 teams that he has decided with whom to block a trade.

Nevertheless, it shouldn't prevent Colletti from getting busy. Ned needs to be at his absolute best this offseason if the Dodgers have any hope whatsoever of improving on a very dismal 2010.

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