Thursday, December 2, 2010

The philosophy of trading within your division

Supposedly the Kansas City Royals have indicated that they won't trade Zach Greinke within the AL Central.

Zach Greinke may be
more valuable to a future K.C.
contender as trade bait now.
This is a fairly common line of thought, that you don't trade within your division because you don't want to strengthen your rivals.

One can argue against that, of course: If you're trading well, you're also strengthening yourself. But risk management is part of running a team. And it probably would be easier on the fan base if Greinke weren't pitching three or five times a season against the Royals.

But here's the deal for Kansas City: They ain't contending in 2011. They have a very highly esteemed farm system, brimming with blue-chip prospects -- but the likes of Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy and Wil Myers are expected to begin settling in to the majors in 2012.

And that's Greinke's problem. That's the last year of his contract. So he's looking at, at a minimum, a couple more years of pitching in front of a lineup that can't help him.

The Royals are, as a result, shopping the 2009 Cy Young winner around. It should be obvious that they're NOT going to trade him for established major leaguers like Delmon Young or Kevin Slowey. They want to add to that burst of talent scheduled for 2012-14.

And in that sense, it is silly, even stupid, to mark 14 percent of the teams as automatically out of bounds in such a trade. The Twins or Tigers may not make the best offer for the ace (it makes no sense for Cleveland to bid, and the White Sox have largely stripped their farm system), but if the Royals are serious about contending in the middle part of this decade, they owe it to themselves to find out.

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