A number of interesting profiles of Zack Greinke have come out over the last few days, and Jon Heyman’s entry on the Brewers ace contained an interesting tidbit about Greinke’s flirtation with the Yankees:
Though he knew he wanted out of Kansas City, which has a promising future but looks like it will have a brutal present, Greinke wasn’t sure where he wanted to be. He told friends he didn’t think he could play in Boston or New York. But when he and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met clandestinely in Orlando (Greinke’s hometown) at an off-site location during the winter meetings, Greinke’s desperation not to endure yet another losing season in Kansas City was such that he is said to have tried to convince Cashman that he wanted to come to New York. And that he could actually thrive in New York.
However, people who were briefed on that meeting said Cashman ultimately decided that Greinke’s first thought about New York was probably correct — that it wasn’t the best spot for him. Greinke told people the day he accepted his Cy Young Award in New York City that he didn’t think he could ever live in New York, and kept telling friends the same. But as the days dwindled this winter, he made his surprise plea to Cashman to make him a Yankee.
The Yankees, on paper, seemed like a fit. They had Greinke’s less talented brother in their farm system and they were desperate for great pitching. But members of the organization are all believed to have sided with Cashman in a winter where he was occasionally overturned (most notably on Rafael Soriano).
There are two notable issues at hand here. The first is that Cashman met with Greinke and decided that the pitcher was not a great fit for New York. That is a determination that I have no issue with, being that the cost for Greinke was likely to be high. While I concede that I am in no position to judge Greinke’s condition, considering it a non-factor is just as ignorant as deeming it a disqualifying characteristic. As I have said before, Greinke’s social anxiety disorder should not have been the primary consideration in weighing the pros and cons of any deal, but it certainly was correct to consider it as an added risk factor, much like a history of arm trouble would be taken into account. The GM needs to balance the risk against the possible reward and determine the amount of talent that he is willing to surrender based upon that calculation.
When evaluating those risks and rewards in the Greinke situation, it is easy to see how Cashman reached the conclusion that giving up multiple top prospects for Greinke was a poor decision. When giving up elite talent such as Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos, you want some level of certainty that if physically healthy, the pitcher will perform at a high level. Due to Greinke’s social anxiety disorder, his projected performance was too uncertain to justify relinquishing multiple high-caliber prospects. It is also important to note that the fact that Greinke asked Cashman to trade for him does little to alter the weightiness of the risk. Zack’s evident desperation to get out of KC may have caused him to espouse a position that he was far from certain about, and his previous reluctance to play in New York carries at least as much weight as his subsequent plea to the Yankees’ GM.
The second issue that I wanted to point out is that Heyman suggests that Brian Cashman was overruled on more than one occasion this offseason. While he does not elaborate and might be referring to minor decisions with little impact on baseball operations, this is something to keep an eye on. With Cashman’s contract expiring at the end of this season, it will be interesting to see if he finds himself fighting for increased autonomy as a condition of his re-signing with the club, much like he did following the 2005 season.
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