Though "some of the best prospects in the minors" are in the Royals organization, K.C. ace Zack Greinke expressed doubt that these youngsters will develop quickly enough to help the team while he is still wearing Royal blue. Greinke told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that "there’s no reason for me to get real excited about it…because the chance of more than one of them making a major impact by the time my contract is up is pretty slim.”
While Greinke stopped short of saying he wants out of Kansas City, he said that "it’s been six years with me, and most people (who are Royals fans) have been through a lot more than I have. But for me, it’s the third complete re-start/rebuilding phase….I like Kansas City….It’s a town that fits me pretty well. But I don’t know…at least put a team together that has a fighting chance (to win).”
These aren't the inspiring words that the Royals want to hear from their star pitcher, and it furthers speculation that a Greinke trade might be a key piece of K.C.'s (latest) rebuild. The Royals were at least listening to offers for the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner before the trade deadline, and perhaps in the wake of the Cliff Lee deal were wondering what their own ace might draw on the market. Greinke's contract runs through 2012 and he is set to earn $13.5MM in each of the next two seasons. It's a reasonable price for a top-line starter who has posted a 3.18 ERA and 3.78 K/BB ratio since 2007.
As Dutton points out, Greinke could just be venting in the midst of yet another losing season. But Greinke does make the logical point that even if the likes of Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas eventually live up to expectations, they probably aren't going to be the type of instant breakout stars that can lead a young team to earlier-than-expected success. The Royals have been openly shopping their veteran players this season and should this strategy continue, trading Greinke sometime before the 2012 trade deadline could provide the final influx of talent necessary to finally turn Kansas City into a winner.