The Royals are entertaining the thought of trading ace pitcher Zack Greinke, who won the 2009 AL Cy Young award with a sterling 2.16 ERA in 229 1/3 innings, punching out a staggering 242 batters and walking 51, allowing just 11 home runs.Greinke may have served as a trailblazer of sorts for Felix Hernandez to win the Cy for this past season with a 13-12 record thanks to Greinke's own 16-8 mark -- while more impressive than Hernandez', even that mark sparked debate among voters.
However, Greinke is disillusioned about the constant losing in Kansas City. Despite a ton of young prospects who could be ready to make a major impact and push the team toward contention in 2013, Greinke's own deal only runs through 2012 and all indications are that he has had enough of the losing and may look to depart the team as a free agent. In fact, some have gone as far to say that Greinke was disillusioned and disinterested at times during this past season, a part of why he finished with a 4.17 ERA in 33 starts, with a tumble in his strikeout rate.
While Greinke is unlikely to go to New York or Boston or any other rabid big-market team due to his own personal preferences and to help manage his social anxiety disorder, he should be in plenty of demand as a free agent and will be able to cash in. That's made the Royals evaluate whether or not to move Greinke. Moving him now would give the acquiring team two years of his services, which in turn would make the acquiring team far more comfortable in giving up copious amounts of talent like Kansas City would demand.
2010: 10-14, 33 GS, 220 IP, 4.17 ERA, 3.76 xFIP, 55 BB, 181 K
Career: 60-67, 210 G, 169 GS, 1,108 IP, 3.82 ERA, 3.91 xFIP, 280 BB, 931 K
WHAT IT WILL TAKE
That return was shortstop Elvis Andrus, who finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2009 and then made the All-Star team in 2010 along with Nefali Feliz, who notched 40 saves in his first season as closer. The club also surrendered Matt Harrison, who has been valuable as a depth starter, but whose future is in the back of a NL rotation. Jarrod Salatalamacchia -- the headliner of the trade -- was later sent to the Red Sox from Texas and has a chance to start for Boston in 2011. Lastly, Beau Jones, a prospect, was in the deal. Jones, 24, completed a bullpen campaign at Double-A and still has a chance to emerge as a middle reliever.
Bottom line: that trade worked out wonderfully for Texas, and it also scared many teams off meeting that type of asking price down the road. It's unlikely Moore can get as good a package that Texas got, but K.C. will still get strong offers.
WHERE HE COULD GO
But second-best prospect Matt Moore would cause the Rays to salivate. But who to pair him with? Tampa can't deal outfielder Desmond Jennings and would likely blanch at the inclusion of a second pitcher like Jake McGee unless the player was farther off (of which they do have). The final piece could include a catcher in Drew Vettleson, as it's unlikely Wil Myers sticks behind the dish.
Other teams with high-end pitching prospects include the Red Sox, who could dangle Casey Kelly along with outfielder Ryan Kalish if Greinke agreed to give Boston a try. It would be interesting to see Toronto try to pluck Greinke with Kyle Drabek as the front piece.
The Royals may not want to deal within the division, but if the Tigers dangled Jacob Turner, it may be too much to pass up. The Rangers, who could make a big push if and when Cliff Lee signs with the Yankees, have a bevy of prospects to offer up including Martin Perez. If the Braves felt like giving the trade route another go, Julio Teheran could be dangled.
There are plenty of teams with top pitching prospects. The issue is two-fold: Will those teams sacrifice the chance of a cost-controllable ace for years for someone like Greinke? And second are the secondary pieces. Some teams with top-end pitching prospects may not have enough to measure up, or could blanch at tacking on even more.
Greinke goes nowhere, but a rough start to the season and increased disillusionment from Greinke will make him a hot and heavy trade target at the trade deadline. And that's when he'll be traded.OTHER PROFILES
Jason Bartlett | Adrian Beltre | Carl Crawford | Adam Dunn | Prince Fielder | Cliff Lee | Victor Martinez | Dan Uggla (TRADED) | Justin Upton | Jayson Werth
-- Evan BrunellFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.