KC Royals: Dumb Luck Saved Zack Greinke Trade

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Apr 8, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

[Editor’s Note: I wrote this story back on July 8. Since then, both Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain won ALCS MVP trophies. They also formed the bedrock of a championship defense]

In December of 2010, KC Royals ace Zack Greinke wasn’t happy. The 27-year-old former Cy Young award winner was sick of losing. And the Royals had just finished a 67-95 season.

Greinke had played seven years in the big leagues, and had yet to play for a team that won more than it lost.

Feeling trapped with two more years remaining on his Kansas City Royals contract, Greinke’s agent showed up at the winter meetings and made sure all of baseball knew his client wasn’t happy.

Greinke left KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore with few alternatives. Greinke had slept-walked his way through the 2010 season to a 10-14 record, with a 4.17 ERA—nearly double his 2.16 ERA during his Cy Young season in 2009. If Moore insisted that Greinke honor his contract, he risked another uninspired performance from Greinke that would do nothing but hurt his trade value.

Moore’s best option was to give Zack Greinke what he wanted.

Kansas City Royals fans know what happened next. Dayton Moore, and the Royals front office, made the best of a bad situation. The KC Royals dealt ace Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers in December of 2010 in return for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi, and Jeremy Jeffress.

The deal worked out better than any KC Royals fan could have hoped. Four years later, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar anchored a defense that carried the franchise to its first World Series appearance in 29 years. If anything, the trade turned out to be a screaming success that ended up better than two more years of Greinke.

Certainly, general manager Dayton Moore, and his front office staff, deserve credit for landing four prospects with major-league futures. Yet, looking at the deals they wanted to make, but could not, shows that the Kansas City Royals enjoyed a lot of good luck.

With the benefit of five years hindsight, we can see that Greinke forced the KC Royals brain trust into what turned out to be the best possible trade they could have made.

Let’s look at the other deals Dayton Moore tried to make, with a nod to yesteryear’s Royals super-blogger Rany Jazayerli—whose thorough analysis of the alternative deals Dayton Moore pursued provided the background for this story:

Next: The Royals Wanted A Guy With Superstar Upside