Anxious for the Mets to acquire Zack Greinke

Early in November, reports started to surface about a potential Zack Greinke to the Mets deal. Thursday evening those rumors took on a more substantial form when Matt Cerrone reported,

“Mets will most likely have to part with 19-year-old SS Wilmer Flores and either Jon Niese or Ike Davis in a deal for Royals RHP Zack Grienke, assuming either side is interested.”

The fact that Cerrone is reporting it gives it instant credibility. Yet even if it was Tony from Bay Ridge, those names are much more in line with what it would take to get Greinke than earlier reports of injured prospects Fernando Martinez and Reese Havens and filler.

Now the question becomes: Should the Mets pull the trigger if this is the actual cost? And if so, should they give up Niese or Davis?

Greinke won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award, yet people still underrate him. He had a fWAR of 9.4 in 2009, which FanGraphs shows being worth $42.5 million. It is hard to get one’s head around how good of a season 2009 was for Greinke. But he was very good in both 2008 and 2010, too. He had fWARs of 4.9 and 5.2, respectively. Last year he was the 11th-best pitcher in baseball by this metric.

With two years left on his contract, salary may be the biggest impediment to acquiring Greinke. He would be a relative steal if he repeats his 2010 season, but Greinke is still owed $13.5 million in both 2011 and 2012. The penny-pinching Wilpons, seemingly saving up to buy an MLS franchise, may balk at adding that much payroll.

But for sake of argument, let’s say that the Royals are willing to trade him for the above package and the Mets are willing to make an exception to acquire one of the top pitchers in the game. Is it a good deal for them to give up arguably their best prospect along with one of their top young stars?

In a word, yes.

Flores has star potential but generally you have to give up something to get something. The Royals are not in the same position as the Twins, where Minnesota convinced itself it had to make a deal. The Mets sold high on their prospects in the Santana trade and Greinke is the type of player for which you move your top prospect.

The hard part is deciding if the Mets should include Niese or Davis to complete the deal. Davis did a nice job in his first year in the majors and has 30-HR potential along with Gold Glove-caliber defense. Niese is a young lefty pitcher who strikes batters out and gets ground balls. Replacing either would be problematic for the 2011 Mets.

Ultimately, I would keep Niese and trade Davis. A rotation of Greinke, Pelfrey, Dickey, Niese and filler for fifth starter until Santana returns later in the year is an exciting one. The Mets have a replacement for Davis in Daniel Murphy, who was going to be the club’s first baseman in 2010 until an injury in Spring Training.

While the drop-off in power from Davis to Murphy is significant, Murphy is likely a better all-around hitter than Davis. And Murphy was also a good fielder at first base, perhaps not quite as good as Davis, but a plus defender for the position.

The gap between Davis and Murphy is less than the gap between Niese and Dillon Gee. I like Gee, but I would prefer him to be an insurance policy in Triple-A to start the year, rather than one of the team’s top five starters on Opening Day.

But even though my preference would be to trade Davis, I would also do this deal if Kansas City insisted on Niese. If everything breaks right, Niese could be a number-two starting pitcher. Most likely he is a third or fourth starter. Greinke is a number-one starter and has a shot to be the best pitcher in baseball some years. If you have a chance to grab a guy like that, you pounce on it.

Some people are hesitant about acquiring Greinke because several years ago he suffered from anxiety attacks. If he had trouble pitching in Kansas City, how would he fare in New York, those people wonder. But Greinke is on medication for his Social Anxiety Disorder and has made 98 starts the past three years. Unless he stops taking the meds, there’s no reason to think he can’t continue to be a dominating pitcher going forward.

Greinke turned 27 this past November. He’s one of the top pitchers in the game and is under control for two more years on a very good contract. That the Mets might be able to acquire him for an 18-year-old Flores, who is unlikely to stay at shortstop and a first baseman whose upside is Adam LaRoche, should be a no-brainer.

On Cerrone’s piece, he had a poll asking readers if they would include Davis or Niese in a deal for Greinke. Nearly 48 percent of the 9,616 respondents said “No.”

It’s fun to root for home-grown players, which is what makes parting with Davis or Niese hard for these people. But it’s fun to root for dominating players, too. Greinke would team with Santana to give the Mets the pitchers to compete with the top of the Phillies rotation.

Playing after the first week of October is fun, too.

9 comments for “Anxious for the Mets to acquire Zack Greinke

  1. Jonathan Joura
    December 3, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I agree that this is a trade you have to make if it is available. One problem is that Greinke has a limited no trade clause and I believe the Mets are one of the teams he can refuse a trade to. This means that on top of the prospects, the Mets would probably also have to agree to an expensive contract extension.

    • Brian Joura
      December 3, 2010 at 11:00 am

      Greinke can veto a deal to 20 teams this year, a figure which drops to 15 next season. You’re probably right about an extension. I have no problem signing him to an extension as long as the 2011 and 2012 salaries remained in place.

  2. tbr
    December 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Brian, while teams initiate trade talks based on what they need, they also have to consider the other team’s needs. Therefore, if you are going to make a trade proposal to acquire Zack Greinke on behalf of the Mets YOU also have to consider what the Royals will need – NOT just what you do or do not want to give up. If you had actually taken the time to do a little research you would have discovered that the Royals have no need for Ike Davis. Check out their first base / DH types logjam and you can instantly see that Davis would be of no interest to them. Billy Butler. Kila Ka’aihue. Uber-prospect Eric Hosmer. AA Texas League Tripe Crown winner Clint Robinson. Davis is at the bottom of their needs list.

    For Matt Cerone to have mentioned Davis only shows that he, like you, neglected to do any research before writing.

  3. Brian Joura
    December 3, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Hi tbr – thanks for reading and commenting.

    Let’s work on reading comprehension before the lecture next time, ok? Matt Cerrone (note the spelling) is connected and has solid sources. Cerrone was passing on information from one of his sources. His piece which I quoted even included the line, assuming either side is interested.

    I responded to the names mentioned. I could have taken my article in the direction you stated, but made a conscious decision not to.

    Finally, to think that having Kila Ka’aihue on your team means you don’t need an upgrade is pretty laughable.

  4. Matt M
    December 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Brian,

    Sorry, but regardless of whatever reading comprehension skills you may think the above poster brings to the table, the fact that this article suggests the Royals would have ANY and I do mean any level of interest in Ike Davis is ridiculous. Why in the world would they even remotely entertain the notion of trying to bring in an additional player, regardless of his ability to play the one position where they have zero desire to upgrade??? The Royals have so many needs, but the one spot they wouldn’t even think about adding a player is 1B/DH. Whoever made this suggestion is grossly uninformed and apparently not concerned about their own credibility as a reporter. There is ZERO chance the Royals make any deal for Zack Greinke that even remotely centers around a 1B/DH. Take that to the bank. I’m just saying…

    • Brian Joura
      December 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm

      Hey Matt M – thanks for reading and commenting in a reasonable tone.

      When the quote that started the whole article specifically said “assuming either side is interested” and I explicitly said, “for sake of argument, let’s say that the Royals are willing to trade him for the above package” – it should be pretty clear to anyone who read the article what we are dealing with here. This is an exercise in valuing prospects.

    • Matt M
      December 4, 2010 at 9:59 pm

      Brian,

      I understand where you are coming from. For the record, I think Ike is a terrific young player and would be a valuable asset to any MLB team. The only point I was stressing is that if we are going to discuss potential trades for Greinke than we should at least be talking about players that fit the Royals need’s. (As a lifelong fan, I assure you we have plenty..) I just think Ike is the best player in the proposed deal, and the Royals can’t afford to get a 1B/DH as the centerpiece of any Greinke deal. If they did, Dayton Moore would have to pack his bags. For the record, I like Moore, but that move would be unforgivable. I enjoy your page btw..

      Matt

      • Jonathan
        December 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm

        Just to play devil’s advocate here:

        Isn’t it possible that the Royals might trade for Ike Davis with the sole intention of then packaging him in a deal to a different team that has something they want but the Mets don’t have? Or maybe they plan on trading their other 1b/dh types. Unless you are on the baseball operations staff of the Royals it is juvenile to say that there is zero chance of something happening. A year ago I would have said there was no way Brian Cashman would be dumb enough to bring back Javier Vazquez. Now I’m older and wiser so I’m keeping my mouth shut in the hopes that we can avoid a return engagement with Carl Pavano.

  5. andrew silvestri
    December 14, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    hi matt mets should pull trigger for geinke niece /majias/newenhauno brainer

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