The one-man free agent pitching market who goes by the name of Cliff Lee hasn't made his decision on a home for the next seven years yet, but the secondary starter market is already heating up as teams looking for front-end arms wait to see what happens when the 32-year-old left-hander finally signs. While many are assuming that the Yankees or Rangers with move on to Royals' right-hander Zack Greinke if they lose out on Lee, according to a report today from ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick in an article entitled, "Sources: Jays, Nats after Zack Greinke", the Royals are saying that Texas and New York, "...rank down the list of potential fits for Greinke," with the Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals, "...best poised to make a serious run at Greinke."
The problem, in the Nationals' case, is that KC GM Dayton Moore (as several people pointed out this morning in discussions and as I've note several times while discussing the possibility of trading for Greinke) doesn't have to deal his 27-year-old right-hander, who's under contract for the next two years at a reasonable-for-a-former-Cy-Young-winner $13.5M per. The Royals, according to ESPN.com's Mr. Crasnick's sources, are reportedly looking for a haul similar to that which the Texas Rangers received when they traded then-27-year-old first baseman Mark Teixeira to Atlanta in 2007, meaning two major-league-ready prospects, along with, "one or two high-ceiling players with longer-time horizons."
The steep return the Royals are seeking explains FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal's recommendation this morning that any team looking to trade for a starter pass on Greinke and go for Tampa Bay Rays' right-hander Matt Garza. While Greinke's thought to be a superior starter, Mr. Rosenthal points out that Garza's under control three years to Greinke's two and, "...will be paid roughly the same amount over the next three seasons as Greinke will be paid over the next two." "That's right," Mr. Rosenthal says, "any team that obtains Garza instead of Greinke will gain an additional year of control at comparable dollars."
SI.com's Jon Heyman, in an article this afternoon entitled, "Royals keep eye on Lee talks while mulling Greinke's fate", says that the Nationals are one of five teams in the mix for Kansas City's '02 1st Round pick, and Mr. Heyman puts the Nats on another list of the "early favorites" to land the right-hander, but he also points to the steep rumored return of RHP Kyle Drabek and Travis Snyder that ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported on Twitter (@Buster_ESPN) the Royals had asked for from the Blue Jays in return for Greinke. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, in the article mentioned above, says that with a, "...wealth of pitching talent in the minor leagues, a hot first base prospect in Eric Hosmer, an elite young third baseman in Mike Moustakas and a hard-hitting catcher, Wil Myers," his sources say the Royals are, "...focused on adding up-the-middle position players who are close to major league ready."
Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Derek Norris? Plus more? Is Zack Greinke worth it? Would the Nationals be better off going after Garza as Ken Rosenthal suggests? The Rays just lost most of their bullpen, an outfielder, their first baseman...can they afford to part with Garza too? If the Nats have the soon-to-be-major-league ready talent to make a deal like this, wouldn't they be better off holding on to it since no one with the team is predicting 2011 will be a breakthrough season? If 2012 is the target date for a competitive run, which right-hander makes more sense? Unless Greinke agrees to an extension upon being dealt, it looks like Garza's a better fit, but both will come at a steep price for a franchise that's not exactly known for being flush with prospects, but internally is saying it's moved on to Phase Two of the organization's development. Is acquiring an ace a part of the Pla...I mean Phase Two?