With one industry-rattling acquisition, the Nationals would make their boldest statement yet about the franchise’s win-now determination. By adding the ace right-hander to the game’s best staff, management would address several potential concerns — Stephen Strasburg’s pending early departure from the rotation chief among them — while building on Rizzo’s plan to transform Redskins country into a baseball town.
Greinke won the 2009 American League Cy Young Award with the Kansas City Royals and, at 9-2 with a 3.08 ERA, is having another all-star season for the Milwaukee Brewers, though NL Manager Tony La Russa left him off the squad.
As Nationals fans know, Greinke has some interesting history with the club. He actually rejected a trade in December 2010 that would have brought him to Washington for Danny Espinosa, Jordan Zimmermann and Drew Storen.
For the Nationals, it turned out their best trade was the one Greinke didn’t let them make.
Greinke figured the Brewers were closer to winning, which they were. Now, the Nationals own the best record in the NL, and the Brewers are 37-42, well back in the race for the wild card.
The Nationals shouldn’t part with their best prospects for Greinke, who can become a free agent after the season, but they should do more than kick the tires on him. If they could reach a deal with the Brewers by trading one top-tier player or multiple solid prospects, then it could be worth the gamble.
Also, Greinke is believed to be Atlanta’s top target. If you can improve while hurting a division rival in one stroke, make the deal.
One NL executive said the Brewers’ asking price for Greinke could be two elite prospects as well as a productive big leaguer. That price may be too steep for the Nationals.
Going big to get Greinke, however, would make as much sense as being cautious with a franchise pitcher in his first full season after Tommy John surgery.
Wisely, the Nationals plan to limit Strasburg’s innings as he continues to regain his form after undergoing the reconstructive elbow procedure in 2010. The thought of the all-star becoming stronger should be even scarier to opponents than his pinpoint 97-mph fastball.
Although the club hasn’t revealed Strasburg’s season-ending number, it figures to be somewhere in the 160-170 inning range. That means Strasburg probably would become a full-time spectator sometime in early-to-mid September. At that point, the Nationals could be on the verge of clinching a playoff berth — or still fighting for one.