The Giants are in the playoffs, but starting pitcher Barry Zito is not at the center of this team’s success. Zito is what some would call a bust after signing his massive contract a few years ago and only producing average numbers at best while taking home a greater than average check. Zito is not at the end of his career but he has struggled throughout the last few years. The Giants have more or less moved on without Zito and without getting rid of him. He still wears the uniform, collects the checks, and takes a start from time to time, but the team does not turn to him in a time of need.
Zito is a classic example of a guy who needs a change of address. Staying with Giants will most likely end with Zito leaving the league too soon on a sour note. The Giants and Zito both need to understand that they cannot stay in this partnership.
The Royals have a young talented pitcher who has already realized he needs a change of address in Zack Greinke.
A Zito-for-Greinke swap does not make sense when you first hear it, but if you add in a few players from the Giants and a few dollars, the deal starts to look good. The Royals could add Zito to the front of the rotation for a year or two as the rest of the young pitching staff matures. Zito would also be on a team in Kansas City where the pressure to win would be lessened. All of these things could add up to a great turnaround for Mr. Zito. Zito plus a few prospects and a bag of cash would balance the scale in the favor of this trade in this writer’s mind.
Bringing back a pitcher who can fill Greinke’s slot in the lineup has to be priority number one in any trade. The Royals have the ability to swap for a bad remaining contract since Greinke has a few years left on his deal. The team could also spend some of their free agent money on a deal like this one. A star for star swap is something that you never see anymore in baseball. It seems like every trade these days is based on money or off the field problems. A Zito for Greinke deal would follow in these footsteps with the Giants getting rid of a bad contract and the Royals getting rid of a player who is not happy.
The Giants would probably make this deal in a heartbeat since it seems like the team has all but given up on Zito. The only concern for any team picking up Greinke would be the stress factor on a winning team in a bigger market. Greinke almost left baseball once because of a social disorder, so it safe to say that a big market team might help to bring these issues back into play.
This deal and others like it are more likely in fantasy baseball, but the Royals need to start thinking outside the box if they are going to finally turn this thing around.