There has been some discussion around the internet over the past day or so about the Tigers and the possibility of trying to acquire another arm, specifically that belonging to Kansas City pitcher Zack Greinke. I don’t think there are many who would argue that Greinke would not be a welcomed addition to any pitching staff, including the one in Philadelphia. That said, for the team that ultimately makes the trade to get Greinke, the price will be steep in terms of talent going back the other way.
When it comes to the Tigers specifically, you have to assume that the asking price is higher than it would be with a non-division rival. The Royals don’t want any part of facing a guy who won a Cy Young award for their organization five or six times per year. When Greinke is dealt, Kansas City will do their best to move him out of the AL Central, if not out of the American league altogether. That said, they will also take the best deal, so if it is a division rival that offers the greatest return, the Royals won’t refuse based on geography.
As is the case any time armchair GMs begin playing the trading game, you will have more than few idiots that will toss around ridiculous trade offers. One rule of thumb: if you think the prospect is worthless, chances are good a guy getting paid millions of dollars to evaluate talent thinks so too. Don’t be the guy that posts a proposal consisting of six low-ceiling minor leaguers. Quantity does not equal quality.
What Tiger fans (and really fans of all teams are guilty of this) need to realize is that any trade discussion between the Tigers and any other club begin with Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner. Depending on the target, it could be one or the other, but you can bet that those will be the first two names brought up by the other club. When you are discussing a pitcher of Greinke’s ilk, and factoring the division rival aspect, that conversation begins with both names. It doesn’t end there, however. The Royals will ask for more on top of that. Kansas City will also ask about Austin Jackson. The Royals want help up the middle, but don’t think that’s limited to middle infielders. Jackson would have to be combined with Oliver and Turner to make a deal happen.
The Tigers have no one waiting in the wings to take over as the centerfielder. I think we can all agree that Jackson should be untouchable right now (or pretty darn close to it) if for no other reason than there is no one ready to assume his role.
You think it’s too high a price to pay? I’ll bet you Dave Dombrowski agrees.
Maybe, the Royals will settle for Oliver and Turner plus a Scott Sizemore, Casper Wells, and a Cale Iorg/Gustavo Nunez package (you can substitute Danny Worth in there if you’d like). Let’s just say they would accept that deal. Is that price too high for your liking? I’m not sure how I would feel about that deal, if it were to happen.
On one hand, it’s certainly possible that Oliver winds up as a very good middle-of-the-rotation starter. Turner projects as an ace, if he’s gets there while pitching for a rival club, it would be a tough pill to swallow. If any of the position player were to reach their potential, Kansas City would be sitting pretty at a couple of spots, and all they would have given up is two seasons worth of Greinke.
On the other hand, what if the prospects never pan out? What if Turner suffers an injury or Oliver never develops into a consistent starter? Are these things likely to happen? Perhaps more likely than we’d like to think. remember two years ago when all the talk was about how Casey Crosby would be the next great starter? How all the trade conversations began with his name? I recall those days. Since then Crosby has been one injury after another and has slipped down the prospect boards with each missed start.
Prospects are called prospects for a reason. I think there are far too many fans and bloggers who value prospects much more highly than they should. One needs to realize that most prospects never reach the ceilings that have been projected for them, and many never even make it to the major leagues. For every John Smoltz trade that looks terrible in hindsight, there are literally dozens of players like Andrew Miller and Matt Drews and Humberto Sanchez that never pan out.
As the saying goes, a bird in the hand in worth two in the bush. We know what Greinke is as a pitcher. We hope that guys like Oliver and Turner can someday become that, but we don’t know that either of them will ever even come close.