KC Royals: Dumb Luck Saved Zack Greinke Trade

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Jun 8, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Washington Nationals starter

Jordan Zimmerman

(27) delivers a pitch against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers weren’t the first team to cut a deal with Dayton Moore for Greinke. Moore had actually agreed to trade Zack Greinke to the Washington Nationals, but Greinke vetoed the deal because—at the time—the Nationals had yet to finish over .500 since moving to Washington D.C. from Montreal.

For a guy that wanted to win, a trade to another perennial loser would have seemed like a lateral move.

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Of course, today the Nationals have what many believe to be the most talent-laden roster in baseball. In 2010, Nats general manager Mike Rizzo decided to deal some of that talent in return for Zack Greinke.

Rumors indicated that Dayton Moore had a agreed to deal that included pitcher Jordan Zimmerman, shortstop Danny Espinosa, pitcher Drew Storen, and catcher Derek Norris.

This trade wouldn’t have been a disaster for the Kansas City Royals, and probably would not have gotten Dayton Moore fired. However, I don’t believe this package fits the KC Royals as well as the trade with the Brewers.

Jordan Zimmerman has been a horse for the Nats rotation, with a career 3.22 ERA and an ERA+ of 120 (20% better than a league average pitcher). Espinosa is a middle infielder with some pop, (career slash line of .232/.304/.393 with 64 home runs), but he’s a mediocre defender. Drew Storen is the closer for the Nationals with a career 2.84 ERA and 91 saves. Meanwhile, Derek Norris has become a catcher with a good stick, and one All-Star appearance last season with the A’s.

Overall, this group has produced 39.1 Wins Above Replacement (bWAR) since 2011. That’s significantly more than the Cain, Escobar, Odorizzi, and Jeffress package at 29.8 bWAR.

Yet, Norris wouldn’t have been much use for the KC Royals since the system already had a superior receiver in Salvador Perez. Drew Storen only would be the fourth best reliever in today’s KC pen (though I suppose he would have replaced Wade Davis). And the Royals would not have the spectacular defense they do today with Cain and Escobar had Greinke agreed to go to Washington.

Indeed, the Royals would have a hole in their outfield had the deal with the Nats occurred.

While Jordan Zimmerman would have been an excellent piece for the KC Royals rotation, could he have provided the same kind of clubhouse leadership that James Shields gave the Royals? I presume Norris would have become trade bait given Salvador Perez‘s presence in the KC system, but would he have brought back anyone close to Wade Davis?

We can only speculate about answers to these questions. Even so, I think it’s clear that the fit wouldn’t have been as good.

The bottom line is that the KC Royals player personnel department did a great job evaluating the Brewers system when they dealt Zack Greinke, but caught a lot of luck to avoid other, franchise damaging, deals.

Next: KC Royals Top Trade Targets To Replace Alex Gordon

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