With the 2012 MLB Trade Deadline just four days away, the Milwaukee Brewers have made it clear that they hold the No. 1 trade target available, as team general manager Doug Melvin has stated that starting pitcher Zack Greinke will be traded.
The Brewers do not want to risk losing Greinke for more draft picks, like they were forced to do with Prince Fielder. The biggest difference is that the Brew Crew were right in the thick of things last season, while they appear ready to fold this season. And after Greinke turned down signing a very lucrative long term contract extension, the Brewers had no choice but to let teams know that they plan on moving him by July 31.
With Cole Hamels resigning with the Philadelphia Phillies and Ryan Dempster stating that he really only wants to be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Greinke is head and shoulders above the rest of the starting pitchers rumored to be on the block. The only tricky thing is that he is a free agent after this season, so some teams may be leery to deal for him if they feel they may only be getting a three month rental.
Then again, as the Detroit Tigers have proven time and time again this season, it is all about winning right now. So some teams may have no problem renting an ace if they feel he can help them win a World Series championship.
So with all of that, multiple teams have been linked to Greinke, but only one will be able to land him. Here is a look at the top 5 teams with the best chance to acquire Greinke by the July 31 MLB trade deadline.
5. Washington Nationals: The Nats still plan on shutting down Stephen Strasburg at some point prior to the playoffs, meaning they will be in need of a new ace. Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson are good enough, but Washington will not win a postseason series with just the two of them. They have the talent in the minors to trade for Greinke, but will not do so without having an agreement for a long term deal in place first. That is what could be the problem here.
4. Chicago White Sox: We know Ken Williams loves to trade, and he is very active around this time of the year. The White Sox want Greinke, but they may be lacking the pieces necessary to acquire him, unless the asking price is somehow dropped beyond reason. Plus, Chicago is a pretty big city in a large market. Would the White Sox be comfortable knowing that Greinke never really wanted to pitch in a big city with huge media outlets?
3. Los Angeles Angels: Another team who is in a big city, but it is a little more relaxed out in L.A. than it is in Chicago. The Angels also have the minor league players necessary to make a blockbuster deal, but also may only do so if they can get Greinke to agree to an extension first. The ball would be in the pitcher’s court in this situation, but it would make the Angels serious contenders.
2. Texas Rangers: It was tough to drop the Rangers to the second spot in this ranking, as they have shown in the past with Cliff Lee that they will give up some talented prospects in return for a rental pitcher if they feel it can help them win a World Series. Texas may feel desperate to make a move with the injuries to their starting rotation, and Greinke could be a great fit with the Rangers with Nolan Ryan. Their farm system is still loaded, and they could make a move for Greinke perhaps easier than any other team. But does that mean they will?
1. Atlanta Braves: The Braves seem destined to acquire a starter before the deadline, and Greinke would be ideal. It doesn’t appear as if Dempster will accept a trade to Atlanta, so the Braves could also call about Josh Johnson of the Miami Marlins. But Greinke would make more sense. He is from Florida, so the Braves could feel the best about possibly keeping him beyond this season. Atlanta also has the players the Brewers would covet in return, but does Atlanta have more than $100 million that it will take to keep Greinke past this year? If they feel the answer is no, they may not give up their top players for a rental. But if the answer is yes, expect a full court press.