Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star laid out yesterday both the general terms of Zack Grienke's no trade clause as well as what type of return the Royals are looking for in return for their 27-year-old former Cy Young winner:
"The Royals will want multiple ready-now prospects in return for a player making $13.5 million over each of the next two seasons. Few teams have that much available payroll, and teams are increasingly hesitant to trade top prospects.
And while Greinke’s performance declined this season to 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA, the free-agent market for starting pitchers dips sharply after Texas left-hander Cliff Lee to the likes of Carl Pavano, former Royal Jorge de la Rosa and Royals left-hander Bruce Chen.
That makes it a seller’s market. So, yes, the Royals will listen."
While the Washington Nationals are not traditional buyers in the sense that they believe they can compete in 2011, they are buyers in the sense that they want to set a foundation for a very realistic playoff run in 2012. General Manager Mike Rizzo has made it no secret his desire to acquire a front of the line starter to have in the rotation with Stephen Strasburg down the line, and as Dutton points out, it's slim pickings in this current market.
Given that market however, what would (or should) the Nationals be willing to give up to attain Zack Grienke? Dutton insists Kansas City will want multiple "ready-now" prospects, meaning players that can impact the Major League club in 2011. While it would pain many Nats fans to give him up, the club might possibly have to part with the likes of Jordan Zimmermann, or Ross Detwiler, two former top prospects who are set to spend the entirety of next year at the MLB level.
The Nats aren't likely to trade Danny Espinosa, especially after his 2010 season, but his presence alone makes Ian Desmond suddenly dispensable at shortstop. It's no secret that Rizzo prefers Espinosa's glove to Desmond's at short, and their overall hitting ability is relatively comparable. Dealing Desmond would still be unlikely though, as many have expressed that he is already a leader in the clubhouse, but that doesn't mean he wont be part of any talks to bring a former Cy Young award winner to Washington.
Another obstacle which presents itself is Grienke's partial no-trade clause. In 2011, Grienke is allowed to give Kansas City a list of 8-10 teams which he can refuse to be traded to. In 2010, his list reportedly included competitive teams with big payrolls, like the Red Sox and Yankees. This is a sign that Grienke likely doesn't want to be traded at all, regardless of to who it may be. He knew that the team's who would attempt to make a move for him would be big payroll competitors, the type of teams which most players would want to leave Kansas City for.
Given that, would Grienke add Washington to his no trade list in 2011 knowing that the Nationals may have interest in him. It would make sense that if he doesn't want to be traded, he would seriously consider it.
Grienke may not even be available after all.