Will the KC Royals look to Zack Greinke for a little help?

Kansas City may be developing a pitching vacancy or two.

Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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Health issues and poor performance are spring training perils players dread but still face every year. Injuries like the late-camp oblique strain that knocked Adalberto Mondesi out of a certain 2021 Opening Day roster spot (yet opened the door for Nicky Lopez's locally historic campaign) can ruin individual and team seasons, and playing badly in Cactus League games can trigger banishments to the minors. Or worse.

Fortunately, the Royals have been relatively lucky this spring in the health and performance departments, especially when it comes to players who arrived in camp last month with good shots at Opening Day roster spots. But some concerns in those areas, specifically with injured pitcher Carlos Hernández and struggling hurlers Chris Stratton and Jake Brentz, could have early-season roster implications. Whether to replace them could soon be ripe for discussion.

Should replacing Hernández, Stratton, or Brentz — or all of them, or even others — become necessary, the Royals can, of course, try to rely on players already in the organization. Inevitably, though, the name of a former internal, but now external, source of potential help will be bandied about by fans and observers of all sorts.

Zack Greinke.

Should the Royals consider getting some help from Zack Greinke?

Greinke became a free agent the day after the 2023 World Series ended. Not surprisingly, he didn't immediately disclose his intentions for 2024, and it's entirely possible he hadn't decided by then just where he wanted to be when spring training rolled around. And as November turned to December, nothing had been heard from the future Hall of Famer known for keeping so many things close to the vest.

But not long before the calendar year ended, Greinke made it known he hadn't turned his back on a 21st big league season and was, in fact, readying himself to return.

And since then? Greinke remains unsigned, and reports of clubs having serious interest in him have been, and remain, scarce.

All that could change if Royals general manager J.J. Picollo and manager Matt Quatraro suddenly find the club in a pitching jam and decide Greinke could be of assistance. This is a critical season for the franchise — the bad taste of last year's disastrous campaign lingers still, and Picollo's reaction to 106 losses, a team-wide overhaul that reached the starting rotation and bullpen, must prove successful. Simply put, Kansas City's pitching can't be bad again.

Greinke might be able to help if help becomes necessary at this late date (Opening Day is less than three weeks away) or even in April. Although his record since reuniting with the Royals two years ago is an unimpressive 6-24 with an un-Greinke-like 4.38 ERA, he's been decent in short situations and his control hasn't escaped him (1.6 BB9 over the past two seasons).

Opinions about the wisdom of bringing Greinke back certainly differ, even here at Kings of Kauffman where our Jacob Milham recently suggested Greinke still has value and will be missed if he doesn't return, and I've said several times that giving his innings to younger pitchers with more baseball days ahead of them is better than re-signing him.

But things can and may change quickly: if problems strike abruptly and leave the team short on pitching, which could happen soon, and the club needs someone who probably won't cost them an arm and a leg, Greinke is an option if he wants to return. especially in a short-term role.

I'd still prefer, however, that the Royals turn instead to someone from within the organization.

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