Kansas City (USAToday.com) - The Kansas City Royals held perhaps the most coveted trade chip of the offseason in Zack Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner sought by pitching-hungry playoff clubs like the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.
But the Royals chose instead to deal Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to one of their mid-market brothers, trading Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers for four players, headed by infielder Alcides Escobar.
The Royals, according to multiple reports, will receive Escobar, top outfield prospect Lorenzo Cain, pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi and another pitcher to be named later.
And the Brewers, very suddenly, have assembled one of the most daunting pitching rotations this side of Philadelphia and San Francisco.
In Greinke and Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee has two potential aces who can challenge the St. Louis Cardinals' outstanding duo of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
What's more, the Brewers earlier this offseason added right-hander Shaun Marcum from the Toronto Blue Jays. Marcum is now two years removed from Tommy John surgery and had moderate success pitching in the rigors of the AL East. He figures to flourish in the less demanding NL Central, giving the Brewers three legitimate starters.
Kansas City, meanwhile, gets a significant return on Greinke as it continues to ramp up toward the arrival of top prospects like infielder Mike Moustakas and a bevy of promising pitchers.
The Royals entertained offers from numerous clubs, including the Washington Nationals, who were unwilling to give up young starter Jordan Zimmermann, according to the Washington Post. The trade of Betancourt clears the way for both Escobar and recent first-round pick Christian Colon to man the middle of the Royals' infield almost immediately, and in a very cost-efficient manner.