Shocking Development: Greinke Wants a Trade

Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports wrote an article yesterday detailing Greinke’s desire to leave Kansas City. Well, to be fair, it said what was already known, just in a stronger tone. There’s a lot about Greinke wanting to leave Kansas City according to another team’s official and the widely-suspected notion that he would pitch better given a winning environment. Not much there that wasn’t theorized already, but the article was arguably more strongly-worded than previous articles have been.

Today, Buster Olney climbed back on the Greinke trail (ESPN Insider), as he has done a few times before, and wrote that the Royals must move quickly to make a Greinke trade. Buster looks at it from a slightly different angle, discussing the media’s impact if Greinke sticks around until Spring Training. Again, he says the things we all have thought about before, namely that Greinke basically got a pass for his less-than-spectacular 2010 due to his frustration with the team and that a relatively poor performance in 2011 would really hurt his trade value.

There are a few ways to look at all of this information and what it does to the Royals’ discussions about Greinke.

The first way to think of Morosi’s “report” is that other team’s officials are trying to plant ideas to decrease the Royals’ leverage in a Greinke trade. This isn’t unheard of, and though I’m not aware of any instance that it’s been proven, it’s widely accepted that this happens in many trade or free agent cases. Of course, with all the information that’s seemingly been released about Greinke’s dissatisfaction with the Royals, it’s debatable whether this report really damages any trade leverage for the Royals. If anything, it makes the public more aware of what is likely happening.

In fact, the only quote in the entire Morosi article is from “a high-ranking executive from another team” that provided this gem of wisdom:

“He really wants out of KC.”

Gee, thanks for the input. Morosi goes on to say that Dayton Moore didn’t comment on the issue, which is why the leverage falls considerably. Without a quote from Greinke or Moore (or anyone else closely tied to the issue), it really doesn’t have any true power or effect. Basically, it’s just repeating what is known, so it advances nothing.

What has been discussed quite a bit in both of these articles and elsewhere is Greinke’s recent change in representation. Zack changed agents from SFX Baseball to CAA Sports, the latter of which is known for representing Roy Halladay in his trade situation last offseason. If they were involved with that process, then surely they could help smooth out any kinks in this process, right? Granted, I’m not sure Halladay was as unsatisfied with the Jays as Greinke is with the Royals, but the idea is clear.

Another thing about CAA Sports (which Morosi mentions) is that it employs Casey Close, who is now famous for his involvement in the Derek Jeter contract negotiations this offseason. His behavior in that situation makes me wary of what damage he could wreak in the Greinke trade talks, but CAA Sports’ involvement with the Halladay trade eases that concern. Really, the agency change suggests that Greinke sees a stronger possibility of a trade with CAA Sports, though, as always, that’s just a hypothesis.

While I’m at it, I want to say that the no-trade clause means almost nothing at this point. If Greinke really wants out as badly as it sounds, then he’ll approve a trade to a team that’s closer to winning. Of the teams that have suspected interest, the Nationals seem to be the only team this would really impact. Greinke wants to win and has long been described as a very competitive guy, so he’ll take the opportunity to win in a heartbeat. More talk of the no-trade clause really doesn’t make much sense to me at this point.

Buster’s talk about Greinke’s trade value now versus later is absolutely right, and we all know it. Greinke was frustrated in 2010. You might say he was flat-out bored. He wants to win games and pitch for a winning team, but he hasn’t had that opportunity just yet. That’s why he basically had a mulligan this season. Even though his ERA climbed dramatically from 2.16 to 4.17, it’s pretty obvious that he still has the ability. I don’t have the information on hand, but I would suspect that he seemed to pitch better against stronger teams because of his competitiveness. Again, that’s a complete hypothesis, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. With or without that, it’s clear that he still has the ability. He just has to be in an environment that gives him the competition he wants. That isn’t in Kansas City and won’t be for at least a couple years.

So, the Royals need to trade him now in all reality. His trade value is still high and he’s still young, so it’s a good time to let him go. Contrary to what a surprising number of folks seem to think, his previous anxiety and depression issues are almost assuredly behind him. There is way too much made out of that, but if teams really worry about that, then maybe he shouldn’t go there just based on their treatment of him. It’s either a play to decrease his value or an actual concern, but neither is legitimate. Or rather, they shouldn’t be thought of as legitimate.

Zack Greinke will be traded. It’s as close to a guarantee as these things get at this point. Right now, the Royals are asking for the world plus Mars and Saturn for him. And they should, but no one seems to want to pay that price. If one team makes an offer, expect more teams to feel the pressure and pile on. The problem is that no one seems to deem it worthwhile to take a shot.

That right there is where Greinke’s trade value will take a hit. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Buster Olney say that his value will decrease over time, but it just hasn’t yet. It seems to be holding steady, and it’s going to take a lot of negotiations and a drawn-out period of time for the price to lower. While I still wouldn’t be surprised if a deal is made by then end of the year, it’s already taken far longer than I thought. That concerns me.

What also concerns me is that the longer this process takes, the less the Royals will get in return. When they get less, they lose chances of having strong prospects from that trade. And, even further, Dayton Moore will go under fire for blowing the trade of the Royals’ most well-known player in several years. It would be the Beltran/Damon/Dye era all over again, and that would be extremely damaging for the Royals. That’s why it’s important for the Royals to pull the trigger as soon as possible. Shop deals around and see what teams counter with, which is likely what’s going on now. Push teams to their limits and see if anything is acceptable. I see the high demands as more of a push to get teams to jack their trade packages higher than they might otherwise. Let’s hope it works.

The moral of the story is that getting worked up over these articles that say everything and nothing at the same time is worthless. They’re obnoxious, yes, but they really only say what is already known. Any effect on the Royals’ trade leverage from such an article is pretty minimal, so it’s truly going to come down to the teams fighting one another for the biggest trade package and whether Dayton will lower his demands given the best return.

When a trade happens, it’s likely going to happen quickly as Dayton finds what he deems the best and pulls the trigger. Until then, prepare yourself for more articles that tell you things that you already know or that are blatantly ridiculous.

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