Poor Zack Greinke. His turn as the most desirable pitcher in baseball didn’t even last a week.
In the days leading up to Greinke’s trade to the Brewers, the Royals were said to be focused on up-the-middle prospects, and that’s exactly what they got. Because the prospects package was built around a shortstop and center fielder, it really doesn’t matchup especially well with the Yankees minor league system, but the Yankees could have matched the raw talent. It simply would have taken a lot to do so.
Here’s what the Brewers are sending to Kansas City.
SS Alcides Escobar
Had a disappointing first full season in the big leagues — .235/.288/.326 — but he also just turned 24 and entered the 2010 season as the top shortstop prospect in baseball. The Yankees don’t have anyone quite like Escobar, but 10 months ago, Baseball America ranked Jesus Montero as a slightly better overall prospect. If the Royals wanted a premier young shortstop, the Yankees couldn’t have matched that (Eduardo Nunez doesn’t matchup with Escobar), but they could have topped the headline talent.
CF Lorenzo Cain
Finally healthy, Cain spent 2010 establishing himself as a premier prospect. He hit .317/.402/.432 between Double-A and Triple-A, then got to the big leagues and hit .306/.348/.415 with seven stolen bases in 43 games. He’s considered an elite defender. The easy comparison here is Brett Gardner, though Cain is three years younger.
RHP Jake Odorizzi
A supplemental first-round pick in 2008, Odorizzi was actually labeled as a “lesser version of Zack Greinke” in Baseball America’s breakdown of the top prospects in the Midwest League. Hard for me to say for sure, but Odorizzi probably ranks closer to the Yankees top three pitching prospects (Betances, Banuelos, Brackman) than their second tier (Noesi, Phelps, Warren, etc.).
RHP Jeremy Jeffress/PTBNL
Another former first-round pick, Jeffress moved to the bullpen this year and moved quickly to the big leagues. He’s drawn raves for his raw talent, but he’s also had multiple drug suspensions. The fourth piece in the deal has been reported as Jeffress, and it’s been reported as a player to be named later. If it’s Jeffress, then you’re looking at a second legitimate pitching prospect. If not, the fact Jeffress was floated in earlier rumors, makes me think the PTBNL is at least fairly significant.
As long as the Royals weren’t sold on the idea of landing a shortstop, a package of Montero, Gardner, Brackman and Nova probably would have topped the Brewers offer, but that’s a massive group. If I weren’t convinced already — I was — the fact Escobar was traded makes me absolutely certain the Yankees would have been forced to part with Montero to get Greinke. He’s a bigger prospect than anyone in the Brewers package, but that’s the only way the Yankees could have made up for not having a comparable shortstop. Guys like Greinke never come come cheap, and he certainly didn’t come cheap today.