If some of you were still convinced that Cliff Lee could become a Washington National in the off-season, I sure hope the playoffs this year have caused that idea to flow from your cranium into the garbage can. He's too good and will command an obscene amount of money.
But back in reality, Zack Greinke really wants to get out of Kansas City's organization, and he wants out bad. He complained about playing for the Royals throughout the 2010 campaign and is (rightly) frustrated with a team that has failed to help him much at all. Still, somehow Greinke has been .500 or above 3 of his last 4 years in the bigs.
Greinke will turn 27 on Thursday (Happy birthday, Zack) and will be a guy moving into the prime of his career after he's already won a Cy Young Award in 2009. He posted an astounding 16-8 record with a 2.16 ERA in almost 230 innings. His WAR (wins above replacement) that year was 9.0.
Translation: This guy is going to be really, really expensive.
Unfortunately, with this kind of expense, it'll cost the Nationals prospects, not money. The Nats have spent the last few years rebuilding the franchise from the bottom up, literally. Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond. These are guys that are minors to majors Nationals (and Expos in Desmond's case) products. All of these guys are seemingly long term solutions to the Nationals woes in the win column.
Plain and simple, the Nats will have to give up one of these guys to get Greinke.
Sure, there is great value in guys like Destin Hood, Michael Burgess, Stephen Lombardozzi (who may have become less relevant and more tradeable with Espinosa on the scene), and Josh Wilkie, but is any combination of those guys going to entice the Royals to get Greinke to Washington? Not a chance.
Then there's the problem of Greinke's no trade clause. He can look at the Nationals and say, "no way," and the deals off. If Greinke has the choice to come to DC or go to... I don't know... almost anywhere else, do you think he's coming here? Not likely. The Nats can renegotiate his contract, try to offer more money, the whole 9 yards, but when you are 27 years old and have already won the highest individual honor a pitcher can get, you want one thing: a World Series ring. You are in the prime of your career, and if you're going to do it, now's the time.
So I guess this is all to say Zack Greinke is an outstanding pitcher. Any of the 30 MLB teams would love to have him. He's going to cost a ton to any team that gets him, and even more for the Nationals, Orioles, and Pirates of the world. While I'd love to see Greinke wearing #23 in red, white, and blue in 2011, I just don't think it's going to happen.