The inevitable news has been confirmed by Brewers GM Doug Melvin: the team will be trading Zack Greinke in the next few days.
There are so many good things about him, it's going to be difficult when we trade him.
With the confirmation of a trade, we need to identify the potential suitors for Greinke. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has distinguished the Angels, Rangers, and Braves as the strongest contenders for Greinke, with teams like the White Sox, Orioles, and Dodgers on the middle tier, and the Blue Jays, Nationals, and Red Sox as longshots.
Taking everything into account, I'd expect Greinke to be dealt to one of those three teams in the upper level of interest. The Rangers are automatically the front runner, because GM Jon Daniels has been unflinching in his tendency to trade prospects for a big name to push Texas over the top in recent years. Two years ago, Daniels gave up a package surrounded by Justin Smoak to bring in Cliff Lee, and last year, he dealt prospects *and* lesser thought of major league pieces to pick up bullpen help in Koji Uehara and Mike Adams. The Rangers also possess four prospects that are extremely coveted by teams: Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, Mike Olt, and (to a lesser extent) Leonys Martin. It wouldn't be shocking at all to see Daniels and the Rangers make a hard push for Greinke, and my gut instinct tells me that this is the team that brings in the Milwaukee ace.
The Angels are an interesting case, because while their farm system doesn't have the ceiling of the Rangers, they do have some prospects that would interest Milwaukee, most notably Jean Segura, Garrett Richards, and CJ Cron. Segura and Richards are currently in the majors for the Angels, and I'm not sure if GM Jerry DiPoto would be willing to blow up his farm system for two months of Greinke. If this was Tony Reagins, his predecessor with the Angels, I wouldn't think twice about him going all out for Greinke. Then again, if this was Tony Reagins, he probably would have traded Mike Trout last summer.
Atlanta is an interesting team to look at. Since Frank Wren took over after the 2007 season, the Braves haven't really traded any "top" prospects. Despite the acquisitions of Javier Vazquez, Nate McLouth, Derrek Lee, Dan Uggla, and Michael Bourn, the Braves haven't given up any top 100 prospects. Hell, it could probably be argued that they've kept their organizational top five every year. But Greinke is a much different animal. Wren isn't going to be able to deal three relievers like he did for Lee, or two bench players and low ceiling starters like he did for Bourn, or a reliever and a bench player like he did for Uggla. Wren needs to deal either Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, or Mike Minor as the center of a package for Greinke, and Haudricourt states in the above linked piece that the Brewers prefer Teheran...as they should.
As for the lesser teams, I don't think any of them would be willing to give up the necessary goods to bring Greinke in. If Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are understandably untouchable for the Orioles, what would they give up? I don't think a package centered around Jonathan Schoop or Jake Arrieta would cause Melvin to even answer the phone. The White Sox have the worst farm system in the game, and they'd need to deal one of their veterans for prospects to try to spin off to the Brewers...and let's be honest, I don't think the prospects gained from trading someone like Gavin Floyd would be enough to get Greinke. The Dodgers are interesting though, because of the presence of Zach Lee. Lee *is* the type of player you can build a deal around, even with his struggles this year. GM Ned Coletti has already showed aggressiveness this summer by trading for Hanley Ramirez, and with a ton of money to play with, Coletti can also offer Greinke a monster extension.
It'll be very interesting to see how this trade develops over the next few days. One thing is for sure though: Greinke's final days in Milwaukee are upon us, and one team is about to get a major boost for their rotation.
Photo courtesy of Daylife.com