Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun reported recently that the Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has called the Kansas City Royals to inquire about ace Zack Greinke and former first-rounder Alex Gordon.
Greinke, one of the majors' best starting pitchers, and the Kansas City Royals best player, is known to be on the trade block; however the availability of Alex Gordon is unknown.
Greinke is available for a number of reasons, the first being his comments regarding the Royals status as a “rebuilding” team. When questioned about his thoughts on Kansas City’s top-shelf minor league talent and probability to be a contender by 2013, Greinke said, "There's no reason for me to get real excited about it, because the chance of more than one of them making a major impact by the time my contract is up is pretty slim."
Another reason that Zack Greinke is on the trading block is that his contract is up after the 2012 season so his value is at its highest despite a ‘down year’ on the mound.
The third reason he is clearly on the trading block is that Royals' G.M. Dayton Moore has made comments that he is willing to listen to offers on the 2009 Cy Young winner, and asked Greinke to make the list of teams he would decline a trade to (Zack Greinke has a no-trade clause).
In the last two years Zack Greinke has thrown 449.1 innings, won 26 games, and struck out 423 batters with an ERA of 3.14, not to mention he is only 26 years old.
More impressively, he strikes out 3.99 hitters for every free pass he issues and has thrown nine complete games, three for shutouts.
His WAR (wins above replacement, which is a metric used to determine the wins that the player creates for their team over a minor leaguer or bench player) is an outstanding 13.
Which puts him in the company of Roy Halladay (13.9 WAR), CC Sabathia (11.4 WAR), and Cliff Lee (13.7 WAR) over the last two seasons.
Alex Gordon is the owner of a modest .244/.328/.405 line in his three stints in major league ball, and has been positionally abused by the Royals, starting out as a third baseman, then being sent down to the minors to learn first and corner outfield. Gordon was picked No. 2 overall in 2005, and is 26 years old, just like Greinke.
The Blue Jays would use Gordon at third base most likely, since their 2010 third baseman was just claimed by the Athletics off waivers. Despite Gordon’s rather pedestrian line, he is still a solid talent who can improve a lot.
So, what should the Blue Jays offer the Kansas City Royals to bring in the ace and former top draft pick?
Dayton Moore has said that to consider moving Greinke he would need at least two top 100 prospects and a young major league pitcher. The Jays have just such top prospects that can be considered “extra.”
If I were the Blue Jays G.M. I would offer Kansas City this package: SP Brandon Morrow, LF Travis Snider and prospects Travis D’Arnaud and Zach Stewart.
Brandon Morrow is a young flame-throwing starting pitcher who opened a lot of eyes last season in Toronto after being acquired from the Seattle Mariners.
In 2010 Morrow was worth 3.7 WAR, pitched 146.1 innings and struck out an unbelievable 10.95 batters per nine. His average fastball velocity is 94.6 MPH over his career. Morrow is 26 years old, just like Greinke and Gordon.
Travis Snider is a young defensively challenged outfielder who, in similar at bats to Gordon, owns a .255/.318/.446 line in the pros. He is 22 years old, was a first-round pick in 2006, and hit 14 homeruns in 2010 for the Blue Jays.
The prospects in this deal are both blocked in Toronto by either a better prospect or a surplus at the major league level.
The first, Travid D’Arnaud is a catcher. Travis D’Arnaud was acquired from Philadelphia in the Roy Halladay trade and is the seventh overall prospect in the Blue Jays system and a member of the top 100 prospects list.
He is 21 years old and profiles as a steady defender and big stick (he hit 38 doubles and 13 homeruns in high A ball in 2010). D’Arnaud is blocked by a solid catching duo on the Major league team of Jose Molina and fellow top prospect J.P. Arencibia.
The second prospect is starting pitcher Zach Stewart, who is 24 years old and almost MLB ready. He is the third overall prospect in the Blue Jays system and is also amongst the top 100 prospects in all of the minor leagues. He had a 3.63 ERA at double A ball in 2010 and his fastball touches 93 MPH.
Stewart is blocked by a full rotation at the MLB level, and the top Blue Jay prospect, starting pitcher Kyle Drabek.
Drabek will be the first Blue Jay minor league pitcher to get a shot at the rotation, so Stewart has some waiting to do in Toronto before his time comes.
If Toronto wants to chase an AL East pennant in 2011, they should strongly consider making a strong offer to Kansas City, such as the one I have proposed here that will net them one of the game’s best pitchers. Zack Greinke, and a player they have their eye on, Alex Gordon.
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