Milwaukee Brewers Trade Rumors: Debunking the Latest Trade Talk

After dropping three straight to the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend and blowing three leads on three consecutive nights against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Milwaukee Brewers are taking the shape of the trade deadline “seller” many presumed they would become over the past few weeks. Now a wholesome 13 games back of the division lead, the Brewers are now in the process of fielding calls from pitching and hitting-needy contenders.

Here’s the latest trade rumors involving Milwaukee as next Tuesday’s non-wavier trade deadline approaches.

Thursday, July 26, 3:00 PM CT — Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin made it official this afternoon, telling Bob Nightengale of the USA Today that right-hander Zack Greinke “will be dealt” before the July 31 trade deadline. In the same story, Melvin went on to say that Greinke would be able pitching in a large market.

“He’s been in a small market here. A small market in Kansas City. He’s always said he enjoyed it, but he wants to take a look at everything out there.”

Furthermore, Melvin added:

“If you’re in a pennant race,” Melvin said, “this guy is a difference maker. He can go deep into games. He’s never been on the DL except for a basketball injury [breaking a rib in February 2011]. He’s very athletic. And he’s great in the clubhouse.”

It is also worth noting this tweet sent by FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, where he was told by one source that Greinke could even be dealt before Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster.

The market for Greinke at this juncture seems to include the Braves, Angels, Rangers and White Sox.

Thursday, July 26, 11:40 AM CT — It has been announced (h/t MLB Trade Rumors) that the Brewers have designated catcher George Kottaras for assignment, as they have reportedly activated Jonathan Lucroy from the 15-day disabled list earlier today. Similarly, Milwaukee has optioned shortstop Jeff Bianchi to triple-A Nashville and have additionally selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Jim Henderson.

Henderson was a former 26th-round draft pick of the Montreal Expos back in 2003 out of Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tennessee. He posted a 1.69 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 1.21 WHIP in 35 relief appearances with triple-A Nashville while garnering a strikeout rate of 28.7 percent and walk rate of 11.3 percent this season. He was extremely efficient when inheriting base-runners as a reliever, as noted by an impressive left-on-base rate of 87.4 percent.

Thursday, July 26, 10:00 AM CT — Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin affirmed to WTMJ radio that he is indeed fielding calls from clubs. Not surprisingly, most of the calls have come from contenders looking to add right-hander Zack Greinke. He told Greg Matzek this:

“We’re taking phone calls,” Melvin told WTMJ’s Greg Matzek. “We’ve been working here. I’m in the office in the ‘war room’ already. It’s a busy week. At this point we have to listen to opportunities to improve the ball club for the future and still try to win ball games now.”

Melvin also went on to say that there is “no guarantee” that he [Greinke] would be moved before his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Washington Nationals. There have been no contract negotiations between Greinke’s representatives and the club since they had reportedly offered him a nine-digit contract extension last week.

For what it’s worth, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also added on Tuesday that a Major League source told him that Greinke is “as good as gone.”

Not thought to be expendable at the onset of the season, Brewers’ third-baseman Aramis Ramirez continues to draw trade interest from contenders in need of a stable, veteran bat.

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports suggested back on July 12 that the Los Angeles Dodgers could be in the mix for the 34-year-old third-baseman’s services, though that they would prefer San Diego’s Chase Headley if a potential deal were to reveal itself.

The Dodgers have received little production from their third-base platoon this season, at least offensively, ranking among the worst in baseball in many categories. Most notably has been their inability to hit for average or power, posting a .248/.321/.355 line this season with a combined isolated power of just .107.

If the Brewers are in fact ready and willing to deal Ramirez to Los Angeles, they’d love to “turn him into” pitching prospect Zach Lee, or at least that’s what ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported on Monday.

Baseball America ranked Lee as the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect prior to the season.  Los Angeles’ asking-price in return for the 6’4″, 190-pound right-hander is relatively unknown. It may or may not take another of Ron Roenicke’s roster players to woo them into completing a deal.

Update: The acquisition of Hanley Ramirez likely means the Dodgers will no longer pursue Ramirez.

To no surprise, the market for Francisco Rodriguez is incredibly bleak. The New York Mets were previously considered to have interest in re-acquiring the veteran reliever but probably won’t have much interest any longer.

The same goes for the San Francisco Giants. The National League West division leaders had some interest in dealing for Rodriguez, but no longer do after watching him perform underwhelmingly these past few days in Philadelphia, according to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler.

Outside of his abominable performance, Rodriguez’s lofty 2012 salary could be what’s pushing teams away from dealing for him. Due to receive $8 Million over the course of this season, the Brewers may not be willing to eat a majority of what’s remaining on his one-year deal. If that’s the case, teams looking for bullpen help probably won’t be willing to deal a decent prospect in return for his services.

After completing a gem of a performance Tuesday night to the tune of allowing just one earned run to cross home on three hits over seven complete innings and a home run of his own, Zack Greinke is now officially the hottest trade-market commodity out there.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has reported that the Chicago White Sox “want Greinke badly”. However, given the state of their farm system as we speak, a deal seems unlikely at best

He also goes on to say that the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels, and even the Los Angeles Dodgers are among the most likely to acquire the right-hander at the deadline. Scouts were extremely impressed with how he performed Tuesday night, as FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reported.

“He was very poised,” one scout told my colleague Ken Rosenthal. “He had very good mound presence, very good focus. I think he’s playing to get out of there, go pitch in the playoffs and make a boatload of money.”

The scout said he has worried in the past — as many observers have — that Greinke becomes bored and disengaged at times, particularly when his team is playing poorly. That wasn’t an issue Tuesday, when Greinke looked “outstanding” and “very athletic” in the field.

Milwaukee offered Greinke a nine-figure deal last week but nothing came to fruition.

-Alec Dopp

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