A look back at some of the most notable MLB trades that were close to happening and would have changed the course of baseball today.
Baseball, like any other sport, is filled with what-if scenarios that make for fascinating debates. From plays that came up just a bit short to free-agent signings that were inches away from transpiring, there are a multitude of almost-happened moments in the sport.
Trade rumors and reports of the past are among those that make for intriguing discussions. Whether at the trade deadline or in the off-season, the rumor mill has always been churning with reports and speculation that no one could have envision happening.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a hefty amount of blockbuster trades that completely altered the complexion of the sport, such as Chris Sale’s move to Boston or Miguel Cabrera’s trade to Detroit. Trades such as these show how unpredictable and creative teams can be when it comes to moving top-tier players.
But then there are other jaw-dropping moves that were awfully close to being completed, such as these 10 what-if trades. Each of these trades were on the doorsteps of happening and would have drastically changed the future of the teams involved, whether for better or worse.
MLB what-if No.10: 2010 — Zack Greinke to the Washington Nationals
For seven seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Zack Greinke gradually established his status as one of the top emerging starting pitchers in the American League. He sported a 3.82 ERA over 169 starts in his Royals tenure with 33 of them coming in his 2009 Cy Young Award-winning season. Still, it all came to no avail as the Royals missed the playoffs in each of Grienke’s seasons with the team.
As with any top talent on a perennial losing, small-market team, trade rumors are bound to come up in the media. Greinke took it a step further by requesting a trade. Several teams showed immediate interest in acquiring the then 27-year-old pitcher, including the Washington Nationals.
After three straight 90+ loss seasons, the Nationals looked to turn their franchise around and form a viable big three of Grienke, Jordan Zimmerman and top prospect Stephen Strasburg.
However, trade talks fell through due to the Nationals’ reported desire to not include Zimmerman in the deal coupled with Grienke’s decision to turn down the trade. He showed interest in the deal but would not fully commit to it because of his willingness to join a winning ball club.
“It wouldn’t have gotten as far as it did [with the Nationals] if it wasn’t appealing,” Greinke said in 2011. “The one thing I couldn’t get over was the fact that, here I was trying to get out of Kansas City because the team wasn’t good. Not saying [the Nationals] don’t have a chance, but I was trying to get to a team that was looking really good at the moment.”
The Royals changed gears and agreed to send Grienke to the Milwaukee Brewers. The move helped accelerate their rebuild process as they received multiple players including two — Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar — who wound up being part of their 2015 World Series team.
Grienke eventually got what he wanted as he made playoff runs with four of his next five teams.