The Zack Greinke saga continues, with small details changing this week, but the outline remains the same.
Greinke changed agents from SFX Baseball to Casey Close of CAA, who also counts the Yankees’ Derek Jeter among his clients. The switch is seen by many in baseball as another indication of Greinke’s desire to be traded from Kansas City, though agents have no technical power to demand or make trades.
“Nothing’s changed,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Friday night. “I don’t know how else to say it other than he’s our player, and if and when we decide to deal him, it’ll be a deal that makes sense for the future of our organization that blends in with the talent we have.”
An executive for another club said: “I think we all know they have to trade him eventually, and it doesn’t have to be before the season, but it’d probably be easiest for everyone if it did. It’s just a matter of someone giving up what the Royals are asking for.”
Moore has openly discussed trading Greinke, saying he’d want high-ceiling and close-to-the-majors prospects in return, preferably some combination of starting pitching, a shortstop or center fielder. The situation is complicated by a limited no-trade clause in Greinke’s contract that includes 15 teams. It’s not clear if Greinke’s willingness to be traded means he would agree to adjust that clause.
Greinke’s reluctance to be part of another Royals rebuilding project has been no secret dating back to an August story in The Star when he said, among other things, “There’s no reason for me to get real excited about (the Royals’ prospects), because the chance of more than one of them making a major impact by the time my contract is up is pretty slim.”
The situation is becoming muddier by a growing belief that Greinke wouldn’t be fully motivated to pitch for what will probably be another losing Royals team in 2011. The thinking goes that he would perform much better for a contender next season than he would in Kansas City.
Greinke’s frustration has built since a promising 2009 season turned into 97 losses and a fourth-place finish. The Royals have lost at least 90 games every year but one since Greinke’s debut in 2004, including five seasons with 95 or more losses.
Greinke won the 2009 American League Cy Young Award with a league-best 2.16 ERA, which dipped to 4.17 last year.
The Royals have a legitimately positive outlook with a loaded farm system — expected to be ranked by Baseball America as the sport’s best — but Greinke’s contract is up after the 2012 season, and nobody can be sure how quickly the prospects will make an impact in the major leagues.
“We continue to remain open-minded with possible deals that make sense for our team long-term as it pertains to acquiring talent that blend in with the current group we have coming,” Moore said. “Any deal we make we’re going to be focused on middle-of-the-diamond players, and certainly you always want to add as much pitching as you can. If we can execute a deal that brings us back that type of deal, we can.”