Ever since the organization announced that they would skip his start and allow him to “recharge his batteries” following several pedestrian outings, teams looking to acquire starting pitching prior to the trade deadline raised numerous red flags on Greinke. Speculation that the right-hander may actually be injured leaked out of front offices and ran rampant amongst fan bases and on Twitter.
Tuesday’s start marked Greinke’s first start in 11 days. It also represented an opportunity to demonstrate his health to the 20+ scouts in attendance. More importantly for Brewers fans, however, Tuesday evening will most likely prove to be Greinke’s final start in a Brewers’ uniform.
With all of those outside factors — and the fact that the Brewers were looking to curb a four-game losing streak — weighing on his shoulders, the 28-year-old Florida native was absolutely brilliant in every aspect of the game. He tossed seven innings of one-run baseball in only 87 pitches, he fielded his position with fluidity and supreme quickness, and he even joined the home run barrage by destroying a first-pitch fastball from Cliff Lee into left field.
The best part was that his home run included a little bat flip at the end.
In short, Greinke starred a beautiful and forceful performance that illustrated what kind of difference-maker he can be for a contending club. If Cole Hamels signs a contract extension in the coming days, Greinke becomes the prize of the trade season. Doug Melvin and the Brewers could be in line to receive quality value in return for the former Cy Young award winner.
Aside from the impressive performance from Greinke, Tuesday night also served as a sobering reminder as to how gut-wrenching this season has become. For the second-consecutive game, the Brewers’ bullpen coughed up a significant lead in the final innings. This time, it was not Francisco Rodriguez nor John Axford surrendering the tying and go-ahead runs. Instead, it was Manny Parra and Kameron Loe, who could not keep opposing runners off the basepaths, and ultimately, cost the organization yet another victory.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote on Tuesday night that Milwaukee was still hesitant to declare themselves “sellers” as of Tuesday afternoon, but Baseball Prospectus has the Brewers having a mere 4.7% chance of making the postseason — and that seems rather generous, at this point. If the Brewers do not sell at 12.5 games back in the division and 8.5 games back in the Wild Card, it’s a purely business move to maintain the attendance momentum they have gained over the past half-decade.
Assuming the organization decides to ultimately move Greinke — and they should — which teams could come calling? What do they have to offer?
The Rangers are connected to the Brewers and Zack Greinke more prevalently than most other organizations, and the latest reports suggest they are waffling between targeting right-hander Josh Johnson or Greinke. They have one of the strongest minor league systems in all of baseball. Though stud shortstop Jurickson Profar will not be going anywhere this summer, third baseman Mike Olt is the prize. Left-hander Martin Perez is another arm that could headline a deal for a front-line pitcher, such as Greinke.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
The Angels have been telling teams that they’re willing to package right-hander Garrett Richards and center fielder Peter Bourjos together to acquire a starter, but the Brewers are not in need of a light-hitting center fielder. Instead, the Brewers would likely ask for Richards and perhaps one of Jean Segura, C.J. Cron, or Kaleb Cowart.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
GM Kenny Williams desperately wishes to acquire an impact starter for the stretch run. The problem, however, is that the White Sox’s farm system lacks quality talent. The possibility of a three-team trade has been broached by some national writers, but those are notoriously difficult to craft — especially at the trade deadline. Unless the White Sox can get extremely creative, they do not appear to be a natural match with the Brewers.
Since announcing that they were moving on from the Ryan Dempster trade this morning, their focus has turned to Zack Greinke. The Braves have a glut of young pitching at their disposal, but the three arms that have most often been named in trade rumors are Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, and Mike Minor. Considering the Braves were poised to part with Delgado for Dempster, however, one would assume that Milwaukee would want more in return.
Perhaps in response to the Atlanta Braves being so aggressive on the trade market this summer, the Nationals have recently been attached to starting pitchers, including Greinke. The Nationals parted with many of their top prospects to acquire Gio Gonzalez last winter, though, so they may not have enough firepower to outbid the competition, unless they are willing to part with right-hander Alex Meyer.
BOSTON RED SOX
The Red Sox were the surprise appearance at Greinke’s start on Tuesday evening in Philadelphia. Despite all the drama and struggles in Bean Town, they are only 4.0 games out of the Wild Card race, so they absolutely could become buyers at the deadline. No rumors have surfaced in terms of what they would possibly be willing to offer in a trade, but with Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, and Jackie Bradley Jr. headlining their farm system, they could certainly offer value for Greinke.
After a dynamite start to the season, Baltimore has fallen off the pace. They are still looking to return to relevancy in the AL East, so they could look to buy this month to make a run at the Wild Card — of which they are only 1.5 games off the pace. Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz are not attractive options due to their big league struggles, but they could be valuable as throw-ins. Like many of the teams on this list, Baltimore has shown no willingness to offer any big prospects. And, no, Manny Machado nor Dylan Bundy are going anywhere.
Multiple reports have the Blue Jays as legitimate buyers this season, and they desperately want to improve their starting rotation more than by just adding mediocre lefty J.A. Happ. Greinke could make them legitimate contenders in the AL Wild Card race. Their farm system has more than enough talent to accomodate a deal, too. Adeiny Hechavarria has been a popular name thrown out by Brewers fans, due to the organizational need at shortstop, but the Blue Jays’ real depth is on the mound. Justin Nicolino is a name that was recently thrown out by FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi as a possibility.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
The Dodgers have been connected to Aramis Ramirez more than they have been Greinke, but with the recent trade for Hanley Ramirez from Miami, their summer acquiring bats could be done. They could turn to the starting rotation and target Greinke as an impact arm for the postseason race. Zach Lee is the name that frequently surfaces when talking Dodgers trades, and with Nathan Eovaldi shipped to Miami, the Dodgers may have little else offer in terms of pitching. Allen Webster is a possibility, as well.
Overall, it appears the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves have been the most aggressive in the Greinke sweepstakes thus far. That does not mean it could change, and no names have been surfacing in rumors aside from “possible fits.”
Stay tuned over the next week. These rumors are not going to subside until Greinke is either traded or the trade deadline passes. Most likely, though, Greinke will be traded prior to his next scheduled start on Sunday. Opposing GMs do not want Greinke to make that start in Milwaukee. They want him making that start in their uniform.
And with how quickly the hot stove has developed in the past few days, a Zack Greinke trade could be completed at any moment.