MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Possible Deals for Kansas City Royals' Zack Greinke
It's been a busy couple of days on the MLB Hot Stove.
We've seen Adrian Gonzalez traded to the Boston Red Sox.
We watched the Washington Nationals sign Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract.
And that's before the annual Winter Meetings, which start today in Orlando.
One of the big names who's most likely to find a new home this week is the Kansas City Royals' ace Zack Greinke. The 2009 AL Cy Young winner has two years left on his contract, and the Royals don't expect to be playoff contenders before he hits free agency, so they're trying to maximize their return by dealing him now.
Here are 10 hypothetical deals that could be made for Greinke, one for each team. I did my best to make them realistic, but remember that it's all only speculation.
What They'd Give and What They'd Want
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What can we expect from Greinke in 2011-12? He may never again match his 2.16 ERA from 2009, but he's far better than the 4.17 mark he posted in 2010.
His 3.34 FIP is much closer to his true talent level, and at 27, he still might get better. Eleven Wins Above Replacement is probably a fair expectation for Greinke over the next two years, though barring injury, he could go way beyond that.
In return for Greinke, the Royals want "two young pitchers with Greinke-like potential in any trade for their ace," according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, so I tried to include promising young pitchers in my proposed deals whenever possible.
The Texas Rangers are regarded as the favorites to land Greinke, regardless of whether or not they re-sign Cliff Lee. What would it take to bring him to Arlington?
The centerpiece of this deal would be right-hander Tanner Scheppers. Baseball America called him the 42nd-best prospect in the game before the 2010 season, and now says he has the best fastball and curveball in the organization. Scheppers, 23, posted a 3.0 K:BB ratio in 80 innings between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma City this year.
Joining him in Kansas City would be 24-year-old righty Tommy Hunter, a starter with 251 innings of big-league experience. He went 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA in 2010.
New York Yankees
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The New York Yankees are going to upgrade their rotation this winter. That's not a question, it's a fact—the Yankees always get what they want. If they miss out in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, you can bet they'll be in on Greinke.
Leading off this trade for the Yankees is Dellin Betances. The Yankees would undoubtedly like to sell high on the 22-year-old right-hander, who posted a 2.11 ERA in 17 starts between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year after posting a 5.48 ERA in Tampa in 2009.
Next to be added would be Hector Noesi, a 23-year-old righty who went 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA in 28 appearances at three levels. He supported those nice numbers with 153 strikeouts against just 28 walks in 160.1 innings.
Finally, the Yankees would throw in Joba Chamberlain, who hasn't developed the way the Bombers had hoped. He posted an uninspiring 4.40 ERA while pitching exclusively in relief this year, but he was BA's third-best prospect in 2008, and at 25, it's too soon to give up on his future.
Toronto Blue Jays
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The Yankees and Rangers get all the attention, but the Blue Jays may actually be Greinke's most aggressive suitor. What would it take for them to swing a deal?
The prize of this trade has to be Kyle Drabek, acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade. BA's preseason No. 25 prospect, Drabek, who turns 23 on Wednesday, went 14-9 with a 2.94 ERA with Double-A New Hampshire this year before a short stint with the big-league team.
In addition, the Blue Jays would send Brett Cecil to Kansas City. Cecil, a 25-year-old southpaw, went 15-7 with a 4.22 ERA in his sophomore 2010 season.
Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox don't really need more pitching, and after acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, GM Theo Epstein would probably be reluctant to deal any more top prospects. Still, you can't count Boston out of any blockbuster deal.
The key to this deal would be 23-year-old southpaw Felix Doubront. After posting a 2.81 ERA through 80 innings split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, he looked respectable in a 25-inning stint with the big-league club. Yet for some reason, Boston seems eager to trade him.
Also headed to the Royals would be 19-year-old Stolmy Pimentel, who BA just called the team's third-best pitching prospect (now that Casey Kelly is gone), and Yamaico Navarro, a 23-year-old infielder who hit .275/.356/.437 at Double-A and Triple-A in 2010.
St. Louis Cardinals
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Adam Wainwright. Chris Carpenter. Zack Greinke. With apologies to the Phillies' "H2O" group, adding Greinke to the Cardinals' already-intimidating rotation would make theirs the best pitching staff in the game.
The centerpiece of this deal would be Colby Rasmus. Ranked the third-best prospect in the game on BA's list before the 2009 season, Rasmus hit .276/.361/.498 with 23 homers and 12 steals this year.
Not the kind of player you'd expect to be on the trading block, but after Rasmus was benched for no good reason several times during the season and his public feud with manager Tony La Russa, the front office has to at least consider shopping him.
Rasmus for Greinke seems like a fair swap, but of course, these things never work out as simply as they could. So we'll throw in shortstop Brendan Ryan, who lost his starting job in St. Louis when the team traded for Ryan Theriot.
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The Orioles making a play for a big name? Stranger things have happened, and Baltimore appears ready to spend in an effort to avoid complete humiliation in the AL East.
This deal would begin with 22-year-old right-hander Chris Tillman. Tillman has yet to find much success in the majors (4-10, 5.61 ERA in 2009-10), but his minor league track record (40-31, 3.69 ERA) and the no-hitter he threw at Triple-A in April suggest he will soon grow into his talent.
Twenty-four-year-old righty David Hernandez has had a similar story, to a lesser extent: His 4.93 ERA in the bigs over the last two years is a significant drop-off from his 3.84 career MiLB mark. Hernandez has been an oft-discussed name so far this winter.
Rounding out the deal is 20-year-old right-hander David Bundy, who posted a 3.65 ERA in 116 innings at Single-A Delmarva this year.
San Diego Padres
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As far as I know, no one has connected Greinke to the Padres, but San Diego's farm system just got a huge jump-start from the Adrian Gonzalez trade. If the Royals were willing to eat some salary, the Friars could be fits.
I hope Casey Kelly hasn't unpacked yet, because he's the first one to get his ticket booked for Kansas City. The former Red Sox top prospect encountered some difficulties adjusting to full-time pitching in 2010, but he still posted a healthy 2.3 K/BB ratio with Double-A Portland.
Meanwhile, Matt Lollis, 20, had a great year with Low-A Eugene and Single-A Fort Wayne, going 7-4 with a 2.12 ERA in 89 innings.
Ordinarily, that would probably be enough. But to compensate for the salary the Royals would eat, the Friars would throw in 21-year-old lefty Pedro Hernandez. More impressive than his 3.57 career MiLB ERA in 226.2 innings is his fantastic 6.06 K/BB ratio over the last four years.
New York Mets
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No one knows yet what new Mets GM Sandy Alderson's vision is for his team. It's unlikely he would pursue Greinke, but hey—you never know.
At just 17 years old, it's far too early to tell how Juan Urbina (son of Ugueth) will turn out. But the Venezuelan southpaw has great potential. He has remarkable control for his age, with a BB/9 rate of just 2.6 in 48.1 innings in Rookie Ball.
Robert Carson, 21, really struggled upon being promoted to Double-A in 2010, but his 3.27 career minor-league ERA outside of that shows a guy who could be extremely useful down the road.
Finally, the Royals would receive Aderlin Rodriguez, a 19-year-old third baseman with good power. He smacked 14 homers in just 69 games at two levels in 2010 and hit .300 with a .532 SLG in the process.
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The Nationals aren't known for being big spenders, but after yesterday's surprise signing of Jayson Werth, we fans should learn not to count them out. Even after committing $126 million to Werth, the Nats are reportedly still hoping to make a splash this winter, and they have been connected to Greinke.
The obvious player around whom the Nats would center their offer is Josh Willingham, whose fantastic plate discipline and plus power have made him one of the most consistent and consistently under-appreciated players in the game. Washington is known to be shopping Willingham, and the team's efforts to deal the left fielder will only increase with Werth now in the fold.
But of course, one year of Willingham won't be nearly enough for the Royals to give up two seasons of Greinke. Painful though it may be, the Nats would have to deal 23-year-old righty Drew Storen, better known as "that other rookie pitcher the Nationals used." He went 4-4 with five saves and a 3.58 ERA in 54 relief outings for Washington in 2010.
But if I'm Dayton Moore, I'm still unconvinced. That's why the Nats would throw in Tom Milone, a 23-year-old lefty who went 12-5 with a 2.86 ERA at Double-A Harrisburg in 2010. His impressive numbers are backed by 155 strikeouts in 158 innings, against only 23 walks.
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Let me make myself clear—Zack Greinke is not going to the Cleveland Indians, for any number of reasons. But the two sides match up pretty well, and it's fun to think about the possibility.
The deal would start with Fausto Carmona, who posted a 3.77 ERA in 2010. It was his best season since he went 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA in 2007. The Royals want someone with Greinke-like potential? Carmona's already performed on his level.
Next, the Indians would deal Josh Tomlin, a 26-year-old right-hander. After posting a 2.68 ERA in 20 games with Triple-A Columbus, he went 6-4 with a 4.56 ERA in 12 starts with the Tribe.
Finally, the Tribe would include T.J. House, a 21-year-old southpaw who spent 2010 with High-A Kingston. In his minor-league career, he has a 3.53 ERA.
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