A trade for Royals right-hander Zack Greinke is one alternative for the Rangers if they fail to sign free-agent lefty Cliff Lee.
But in the Rangers’ perfect world, they would get both.
The team’s engaging in simultaneous pursuits of Lee and Greinke with the idea of putting the two aces together in the same rotation, major league sources say.
The problem: The Rangers face steep odds in landing even one of the pitchers, let alone both.
To retain Lee, the Rangers will need to prevail over the Yankees, who rarely fail to sign free agents they target.
To obtain Greinke, the Rangers will need to satisfy the Royals with a compelling trade offer, a process that’s off to a slow start.
The Rangers have floated multiple proposals for Greinke, but are “not even close” to meeting the Royals’ demands, sources say.
In fact, some with the Rangers believe the Royals’ asking price is so high, they won’t trade Greinke at all.
The Royals have indicated in the past that they want two young pitchers with Greinke-like potential in any trade for their ace.
There would be a financial cost as well.
Greinke, 27, is under contract for two more seasons, with a salary of $13.5 million in each. Of course, that practically makes him a bargain compared to Lee, 32, who’ll likely command a deal of five or six years at roughly $23 million per season.
The extent of the Rangers’ willingness to spend under new ownership isn’t known, but the sheer pursuit of Lee indicates that the team’s in a much stronger financial position than it was under previous owner Tom Hicks.
The Yankees, in theory, also could pursue Greinke in addition to Lee. But at this point, sources say, the Yankees don’t view a Greinke trade as realistic, and not simply because of the steep price in prospects.
The Yankees are one of 15 teams to which Greinke cannot be traded without his permission. Though a report by Yahoo! Sports this week said that Greinke would approve a trade to the Yankees, the team still would have reservations, sources say.
Greinke had an 8.82 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at the original Yankee Stadium, and he’s yet to pitch in the new one. He also missed time due to social anxiety and depression in 2006, and like any player joining the Yankees, would need to adjust to the pressure of playing in New York.
The Rangers aren’t on Greinke’s no-trade list, meaning he can be sent to Texas without his consent. The pitcher also has fared quite well at Rangers Ballpark in his career, producing a 2.38 ERA in 34 innings.