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Speculation at the Winter Meetings had the Marlins expressing trade interest in Royals’ ace Zack Greinke. There was little substance to the rumors, and the story faded as fast as it surfaced.
But now that the Phillies have assembled their dream rotation by adding Cliff Lee, should the Marlins counter and make a run at Greinke? Such a move would create a formidable one-two punch with Josh Johnson and Greinke. It certainly would stack up with Philadelphia’s duo of Roy Halladay and Lee.
South Florida already has the “Big Three” with Wade, LeBron and Bosh in basketball. So the possibility of having Greinke in the Marlins’ rotation would clearly stir plenty of excitement in a big-event market. For Internet sites, newspapers, blogs and talk radio, this would give the fans and the media plenty to talk and write about.
But at what cost could making a “dream rotation” happen? This is the sticking point, and the major reason why it is highly doubtful that Zack Greinke will become a Marlin in 2011.
To even get the Royals seriously to engage in trade talks for Greinke, the Marlins would have to be willing to part with Mike Stanton. Foremost, the now 21-year-old slugger would be the centerpiece. The asking price may also include Logan Morrison. Then, the Marlins would likely have to be prepared to include Ricky Nolasco as well a prospect or two. In all, it would take about four or five players, including major parts of the current club, to land the former Cy Young award winning right-hander.
Some have speculated that Nolasco and Leo Nunez could get the deal going. It wouldn’t even pique Kansas City’s interest.
Considering the Marlins already have a formidable rotation with Johnson, Nolasco, Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad, there isn’t the urgency to acquire Greinke. At least not at the price of trading perhaps the best young power hitter in the game, who is under club control through 2016.
As the Marlins front office has repeatedly stated, the price of quality starting pitching is extremely high. It is either costly in terms of contracts (Lee will make $120 million over five years), or players offered to obtain a true ace. Grooming your own starting pitching — like the Giants have done — remains the most effective way to build a rotation.
When you look at the possible return for someone like Greinke, it also shows why the Marlins have no intentions of trading Johnson to the Yankees or anywhere else.
With Lee going to the Phillies, it didn’t take long for reports out of New York to suggest the Yankees inquire about JJ. For the record, the Marlins’ ace is not on the market. But if he were, Florida wouldn’t narrow its trade partner to exclusively the Yankees. A player like Johnson would generate wide appeal, and even the best package the Yankees may be able to offer might not stand up to other clubs.
The bottom line for the Marlins on the Greinke front is — is it worth overpaying for a right-hander they’d have under contract for two years?
— Joe Frisaro