Whether the Yankees get him or not, Zack Greinke’s days in Kansas City might be numbered. He’s one of the few top-of-the-rotation pitchers in baseball who could be moved this winter, so he’s obviously going to get a lot of attention in the next few days.
Don’t misunderstand this post… This is not a list of pitchers who I believe the Yankees could acquire or should acquire.
This is simply an attempt to list the pitchers who — like Greinke — might be considered a reasonable alternative to Cliff Lee in the No. 2 spot. No middle-of-the-rotation arms or guys with high ceilings, these are strictly guys who could immediately slide into that spot behind CC Sabathia as a possible improvement on what the Yankees already have.
There are plenty of names on this list, but what stands out is how few might actually be traded between now and spring training.
Angels: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren
Weaver is just entering his prime, and last season went a long way toward establishing him as one of the premier pitchers in baseball. Hard to imagine the Angels trading him. Haren pitched much better after being traded out of Arizona, and his contract jumps quite a bit next season, but the Angels seem like buyers instead of sellers. They can make a playoff run with those two at the top of the rotation. Can’t imagine them being dealt.
Astros: Wandy Rodriguez
Not a big name, but Rodriguez put up good numbers the past three seasons in Houston, and clearly the Astros are in no position to win in the immediate future. He’s arbitration eligible after making $5 million last season.
Athletics: Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson
There’s quite a bit of young pitching talent in Oakland, but I don’t think any of the A’s starters matter in this discussion. Oakland is building a very nice rotation, but their starters are also cheap and could make the Athletics contenders in the not-so-distant future.
Blue Jays: Ricky Romero
Similar to Oakland, Toronto has a nice core of young starters. Romero is the most proven of the bunch, but he just signed an extension and the Blue Jays already traded one starter this winter. Hard to see them trading another, especially not a guy they just locked up through 2016.
Braves: Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson
Obviously the Braves aren’t trading Hanson, and I doubt they’re putting Hudson on the market. At $9 million, Hudson actually has a reasonable contract for a guy who was one of the National League’s best pitchers last season.
Brewers: Yovani Gallardo
After back-to-back 200-strikeout seasons, Gallardo is coming into his own in Milwaukee. He’s also 24 years old. He’s not going anywhere.
Cardinals: Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright
Hard to imagine Wainwright going anywhere, but check back on Carpenter in July. Right now the Cardinals clearly consider themselves contenders. They do need money for an Albert Pujols extension, but I don’t think they’re looking to dump Carpenter just yet. Jamie Garcia could make this list with a repeat of 2010.
Cubs: Carlos Zambrano
This is either a brilliant idea or a nightmare scenario. Zambrano has been great, and he’s been awful, and new Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been in Chicago for all of it. Zambrano’s best-case scenario is awfully good, but his contract is awfully bad. My opinion? Not worth the risk.
There are some solid options for the middle or back of the rotation, but Arizona doesn’t have a guy who would easily slide into the No. 2 spot for the Yankees.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley
Ted Lilly might be more attainable, but to me he’s more of a No. 3 or 4 starter, not a No. 2 type like Kershaw or Billingsley. That said, I can’t see Kershaw or Billingsley being traded any time soon.
Giants: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain
Good luck with that.
Indians: Fausto Carmona
If the Carmona of 2010 and 2007 shows up again in 2011, he’d be a nice addition with a reasonable contract. But he was bad the two years in between, and the ups and downs are cause for concern. Could be a nice target. Could be a debacle.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez
The Mariners stink. I get that. But even if they aren’t in a position to win for another three or four years, Hernandez would still be in his prime for those teams. Seattle could get the sun and the moon for him, but I’m not sure that means Hernandez is legitimately available. How does any team trade a guy like that?
Marlins: Josh Johnson
There are other solid young pitchers on this staff, but none bring the can’t-miss comfort of Johnson. He’s not quite as young or as proven as Hernandez, but he’s in a similar situation, only on a better team. The Marlins have some good young players breaking into the big leagues. Before they start selling, it might be a good idea to be patient and see where guys like Johnson, Mike Stanton, Hanley Ramirez and Gaby Sanchez take them.
With Johan Santana coming back from surgery, there’s no one in that Mets rotation who would significantly help the Yankees.
Even if Stephen Strasburg were healthy, he clearly wouldn’t be available.
I like Brian Matusz a lot, but I’m not sure he would be ready to jump into the No. 2 spot in the Yankees rotation. Phil Hughes is closer to that spot than Matusz. Nice young pitcher, but not there just yet. No reason to think he’d be traded anyway.
Padres: Matt Latos
It’s probably a stretch to include Latos among the elite pitchers in baseball based on one season. Put him on the list, don’t put him on the list. It really doesn’t matter. He won’t be traded.
Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels
Apparently Joe Blanton is available.
I like Ross Ohlendorf as much as anyone, but the Pirates aren’t going to help the Yankees rotation.
Rangers: C.J. Wilson
The best-of-the-rest in Texas is Wilson, the converted reliever who was terrific in his first season as a starter. Clearly he’s not a Cliff Lee-level starter, and there’s absolutely no reason to think he’ll be traded this winter, but I do wonder if he might be traded in July if the Rangers aren’t in a position to repeat in the AL East.
Rays: David Price, Matt Garza
Obviously Price isn’t going to be traded, but Garza’s name has floated through trade rumors through much of the offseason. For the Yankees, though, it’s a tough matchup. The Rays will be hesitant to ship Garza within the division, and the Yankees should be hesitant to send some of their top young players to an organization that’s already in a strong position to quickly rebuild.
Red Sox: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz
It’s also very possible John Lackey or Josh Beckett could pitch like a No. 2 starter next season, but it’s not possible any of those Boston starters will be traded to the Yankees.
Reds: Johnny Cueto
Just like a handful of other young pitchers on this list, I’m not sure Cueto qualifies as a proven top-of-the-rotation starter, but he’s certainly talented. Also like a handful of other young pitchers on this list, his inclusion doesn’t really matter. The Reds are ready to win, and they aren’t going to do that by trading Cueto.
Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez
The Rockies just extended Troy Tulowitzki on a $157.75-million deal. By comparison, Jimenez is off the bargain rack, signed through 2014, with the cost never climbing higher than $5.75 million until the final year. He’s going to make $2.8 million next season, and in the NL West, the Rockies could very well make a playoff run. Jimenez won’t be on the block.
Royals: Zack Greinke
I don’t know Greinke at all, so I can’t write about his personality or his willingness to pitch for the Yankees. That said, his story is pretty well known, and it’s hard to blame anyone for wondering whether he would thrive in New York. I realize it’s different pitching for the home team, and the sample is small, but in four games at Yankee Stadium, Greinke has an 8.82 ERA, higher than at any other ballpark. He’s also incredibly talented. Some team is going to be extremely happy to get him.
Tigers: Justin Verlander
By bringing back Magglio Ordonez, and signing both Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit, the Tigers are signaling that they’re ready to make another push for the playoffs. Trading Verlander won’t make that happen.
Twins: Francisco Liriano
The Twins made the playoffs last season without Joe Nathan or Justin Morneau, so you can understand if they aren’t willing to give up on 2011 just yet. If they were to put Liriano on the market, one thing to keep in mind about his value is the fact he still has two years of arbitration ahead of him. He’d under team control for a while, and team control costs extra.
White Sox: Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks
If the White Sox are going to trade a starter, it won’t be Danks, and Buehrle has 10-and-5 protection that acts as a complete no-trade clause. Floyd could be moved, and although he’s not the classic overwhelming, top-of-the-rotation kind of guy, he’s been pretty good the past three seasons. The Phillies had little choice but to give up on him a few years ago. Somehow, I don’t think they miss him.
Associated Press photos of Greinke, Weaver, Carpenter, Johnson, Garza and Verlander