JULY 19: Kansas City general manager J.J. Piccolo pushed back against the idea the Royals would only trade Grienke if he requested a deal in a recent appearance on 610 Sports Radio (h/t to Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star). “There’s nothing contractually. We’ll treat Zack Greinke the exact same way we’ll treat any other player. If the return is a good return, then we’ll look at it,” Piccolo said about the possibility of a Greinke deal. The GM acknowledged the team “would have discussions with Zack if anything were to come forward” in recognition of his decision to sign there over the winter, but it doesn’t appear there’s a firm mandate not to deal the six-time All-Star. He nevertheless indicated they’ve yet to have any substantive discussions with interested teams and conceded it seems unlikely a deal will wind up coming together before the deadline.
JULY 15: With the Royals already in sell mode, the majority of their impending free agents figure to eventually emerge as trade candidates. One exception appears to be right-hander Zack Greinke, whom the Royals aren’t planning to trade unless he specifically asks to be dealt, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports.
The 38-year-old Greinke is back with his original organization after 11 years spent honing a potential Hall of Fame resume around the league, making stops with the Brewers, Angels, Dodgers, D-backs and Astros along the way. Greinke chose to sign a one-year, $13MM deal with the Royals despite a reportedly comparable offer from the now-division-leading Twins and interest at a similar price point from the Tigers. Detroit GM Al Avila said during Spring Training that money was not the deciding factor in Greinke’s decision. Rather, the righty preferred going “back to Kansas City and the place where he started,” which is wholly understandable at this juncture of his career. Heyman adds that Greinke recently purchased a home in Kansas City as well — all of which combines to make a trade appear fairly unlikely.
Greinke has been mostly solid for an unproven and at times shaky Royals staff this season, making 14 starts and logging 73 2/3 frames of 4.52 ERA ball. All of the damage against him has come in four road starts, as he’s been hit hard in Houston, Colorado, Minnesota and Arizona. Greinke has a 1.86 ERA while pitching at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, and despite the pedestrian earned run average, he’s held his opponents to two or fewer runs in nine of his 14 starts. Righties Brad Keller (3.96 ERA, 97 2/3 innings) and Brady Singer (3.82 ERA, 66 innings) have also been good for Kansas City, but the rest of the pitchers who’ve started games for the Royals this year have ERAs either just under or well north of 5.00.
A former Cy Young winner, six-time All-Star, six-time Gold Glover and two-time ERA champion, Greinke’s dominance has faded late in his career as his fastball velocity and strikeout rates have dropped. He’s averaging just 89.2 mph with his “heater” in 2022 while striking out a career-low 12.5% of his opponents. His command of the strike zone remains masterful, however, evidenced by a 4.5% walk rate and a 67.9% first-pitch strike rate, which ranks tenth among big league pitchers (min. 70 innings).
It’s certainly possible that as the deadline draws nearer, Greinke will feel the urge to again join a postseason push and approach the front office about engineering a trade. Even then, he’d likely be selective about his preferred destination, so a trade wouldn’t necessarily be a given. At least for now, it seems much likelier that he stays put.