Trading Zack Greinke and the blueprint for success
Zack Greinke is obtainable now, officially, Royals GM Dayton Moore going on the record with the Star’s excellent beat writer Bob Dutton. The reality isn’t as shocking as the headline, but this is an issue that — however it’s handled — will play an enormous role in shaping the future of the Royals and the legacy Moore has in this town.
The first priority is, and must be, to sign Greinke to an extension to the current contract that keeps him under the Royals’ control through 2012. Here’s how to think of this: Zack did the Royals a favor with the current deal, four years and $36 million being far below his open market value. That’s not happening again.
Zack will be open to signing with the Royals, but they’ll most likely have to play by the same rules as everyone else. They have certain advantages, like a place he feels comfortable, and certain disadvantages, like a big league team that will most likely lose about 95 games next year.
There is plenty of time to dissect this, but for now, let’s put the chances of the Royals re-signing Zack at 30 percent.
The only — ONLY — other option is to trade him. They can do that now, they can do it in July of 2011, they can do it after next season, or they can do it in July 2012. The problem is being able to get equal value back.
The Royals will need a package that begins with a big-league ready stud prospect, and at least another piece or two that the fan base can believe in. In other words, they need to get back more than Neifi Perez or the Mark Teahen All-Stars.
Cleveland made the Mona Lisa of such trades eight years ago, dealing Bartolo Colon to Montreal for a package headlined by Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips. Now, conventional wisdom is that those deals are no longer possible because teams have a much higher value on their own (cheap) prospects and aren’t willing to deal them for what essentially amount to rental property.
The Colon trade even comes with an obvious and convenient talking point: that kind of deal is so outdated it was made with a franchise that doesn’t even exist anymore, at least not in Montreal.
But if you turn on your TV this afternoon you will see the Rangers playing for their first World Series in franchise history, and this is a good time to remind you they might not be in this position without a trade three years ago that is being viewed in similar ways to the Colon trade.
To refresh your memory, the Rangers traded Mark Teixeira — a homegrown, top-10 draft pick, star-in-his-prime just like Zack — for, deep breath, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the Rangers had the #1 farm system last year according to Baseball America. The Royals will most likely have BA’s top ranking this year, and as has been mentioned here before, with only one exception since 1992, every BA #1 has led to a big league playoff team within four years.
We talk a lot about the Braves and the Twins and even a little about the Rays being the model for what the Royals are attempting to do, but maybe the best blueprint is the Rangers.
They’ve already built the farm system. Pretty soon, we’ll see if they’ll need to try for the major trade.