The Royals are receiving “fair” trade offers for right-hander Zack Greinke, according to a source familiar with the club’s discussions.
Whether they receive the right offer remains to be seen.
The Royals are quite specific in what they want, the source said. They are asking for pitching to replace Greinke and help at one or more of the four up-the-middle positions — center field, shortstop, second base and catcher.
Five teams are seriously pursuing Greinke, the source said. Another three are on the periphery of the discussions.
Among the clubs that have shown at least a measure of interest, according to sources and reports: the Rangers, Dodgers, Nationals and Blue Jays.
Some rival executives believe the Rangers are in position to make the best offer for Greinke, if they haven’t already. But other sources say there is no front-runner.
“There are multiple opportunities,” one source said. “(The Royals) are moving very slowly, dissecting every player.”
The Royals need not rush. They need not even trade Greinke this offseason. They could wait until the July trading deadline or even next offseason to get the deal they want.
But if the Royals delay, they will risk that Greinke’s value could diminish because of injury or sub-par performance. He also would become less attractive the closer he was to free agency.
Greinke, 27, is under contract for two more years at $13.5 million per season. His limited no-trade clause enables him to block trades to 15 clubs.
There are differing accounts on whether Greinke would wield his veto rights to certain teams.
According to one source, Greinke has told the Royals he is willing to go to any club. Some rival executives, however, express doubt that Greinke is indeed open-minded. The Blue Jays are among the clubs on his no-trade list.
In any case, the Royals do not plan to lower their price for Greinke.
The team’s stable of pitching prospects, led by a stunning group of left-handers, is perhaps the best in the game. Most of those pitchers, however, are at least a year away, and if the Royals traded Greinke, they would be losing his 220 innings.
Meanwhile, most of the team’s best position prospects — first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and catcher Wil Myers (if he moves to the outfield) — are corner players.
The Royals would like to add a speedy center fielder to hit at the top of their lineup. They are thin at the upper levels in catching. And their most recent No. 1 draft pick, Christian Colon, could prove a Rey Sanchez-Edgar Renteria type, a shortstop with average range. Or, he could move to second base.
Hence, the Royals’ desire to add up-the-middle players as well as pitchers in any trade for Greinke.
If they find a match, deal.
If not, Greinke could be their Opening Day starter.