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.
One industry source believes Zack Greinke will be dealt before Ryan Dempster. Dempster to #Dodgers possibility remains in limbo.—
Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 26, 2012
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.
If Brewers decide to sell, Dodgers have identified Aramis Ramirez as possible 3B upgrade. Prefer Chase Headley, however.—
Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) July 12, 2012
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.
Brewers would love to be able to turn Aramis Ramirez into Zach Lee of Dodgers then turn Greinke into Mike Olt of the Rangers but unlikely—
JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 24, 2012
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.
Giants still looking for bullpen help. Had some interest in K-Rod...until they saw him the other day. And they don't see Broxton as answer.—
(@DKnobler) July 25, 2012
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
Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 25, 2012
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.
The Milwaukee Brewers came into the 2012 season with high hopes of returning to postseason contention. Despite the farewell bid by former first-baseman Prince Fielder, management believed that they could still contend with the pieces left over.
Unfortunately, things haven’t turned out as previously thought. With the All-Star break upon us, Milwaukee sits at a disconcerting 39-44, seven games out of first place in the National League Central division. Injuries and severe under-performance have cast a shadow of doubt over the immediate future of the organization, leaving many to wonder whether or not the club should add a piece or two for a second-half run or sell their assets to reboot for subsequent seasons.
A definitive answer to that question is still a ways off at this juncture. General manager Doug Melvin and principal owner Mark Attanasio have claimed they would like to see where they are in the standings at least a week after the break to decided the club’s intentions this month.
Still, rumors surrounding the club won’t cease to exist, especially given the amount of talent the club could potentially deal away. Here, we’ll keep you updated as those rumors continue to surface to go with a bit of reaction and analysis to go along with each.
What Could Zack Greinke Yield in a Trade?
Posted: Tuesday, July 10 at 11:56 a.m. CT
It’s been a topic up for discussion for a while now: What might the Brewers get in return for Zack Greinke via trade?
I tried my best to answer that very question a few days back, but that was well before a report surfaced that the Baltimore Orioles had a serious interest in Greinke, and also before the Atlanta Bravesappeared to be doing any more than their due-diligence in scouting the Brewers’ right-hander. Now, both clubs are probably the front runners in the sweepstakes.
Carson Cistulli, a writer for the highly-acclaimed baseball site FanGraphs.com, published a piece Monday morning trying to answer the question I alluded to earlier:What would Greinke yield in a trade? He attempted to answer that question by looking back at past trades involving high-priced starters and what the team dealing them received.
Here’s a short snippet of that Cistulli had to say:
Inspecting the four deals above, it appears as though, of late, top-end starters have been more likely to yield a number (in fact, four exactly, every time) of B and C-type prospects — as opposed to just one or two high-end type. Indeed, the Jimenez deal — with two B+ prospects, in Pomeranz and White — appears to have been the biggest return of those considered here.
It is currently unknown what the Brewers are looking in return for Greinke, but based on the deals that Cistulli revisited, Milwaukee may not get the high-profile prospect they’re looking for in return. Throw in the fact that the team receiving Greinke will not receive a compensatory draft pick should he walk in free-agency, and a potential deal this summer is becoming increasingly unlikely.
New York Mets Interested in Francisco Rodriguez
Posted: Saturday, July 7 at 12:00 p.m. CT
While Zack Greinke has dominated Milwaukee’s trade headlines and will from here on out, he is not the only veteran hurler with a potential to be moved via trade this month.
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post claimed last Tuesday that Francisco Rodriguez highlights the shortlist of relievers that the New York Mets would be interested in acquiring prior to the July 31 deadline. Among other things, Davidoff claims that the combination of Rodriguez’s poor performance this season together with the fact that the Mets won’t be scared to take on his 2012 salary , that this would be an “excellent fit”.
In 41 appearances this season, Rodriguez has garnered a 4.06 ERA and 1.51 WHIP while harboring a career-low strikeout rate of 20.3 percent. His subpar production has yielded him an unsightly -0.1 WAR rating, according to FanGraphs.
Should the Mets make a move for Rodriguez?
The Mets’ bullpen ranks among the worst in all of baseball this season, most notably in their league-high 5.04 ERA. In terms of raw value, New York’s bullpen has accumulated just a 0.3 WAR rating, enough to rank seventh-worst among all Major League bullpens. Clearly, they need help.
While Rodriguez has been a shell of his former self this season, he could still provide stability and a veteran presence as the Mets’ closer. They could then move Frank Francisco to the setup role and have a formidable one-two punch late in games.
The only thing that will hold this deal up is Milwaukee’s asking price. They’re on the prowl for MLB-ready prospects, and the Mets don’t have a whole lot to speak of.
Baltimore Orioles “Going Hard” for Zack Greinke
Posted: Saturday, July 7 at 9:15 a.m. CT
In a year where he could virtually guarantee himself a Matt Cain-esque contract once he hits the open market this winter, Zack Greinke has been spectacular for Milwaukee.
In 17 starts this season, the 28-year-old free agent to-be boasts a 3.08 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, striking out nearly a batter per inning. In terms of raw value, Greinke holds true to the second-highest WAR (wins above a replacement-level player) rating among all big league starters at 3.5. Many teams were interested in acquiring him before the season, but it now seems as though every contender wants a piece of Greinke-fever.
As I wrote last week in a collaborate piece with a few other columnists here on B/R, the Braves, Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox and Blue Jays seemed like the most logical destinations for Greinke through a trade this summer. Since then, though, another team has reportedly joined the party.
According to Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun, the Orioles appear to be “the most aggressive suitor for Greinke” at this juncture. The Orioles are still very much in contention in the AL East thanks to a surprise outburst from their offense, currently just five and a half games out of first place in the division.
Should the Orioles make a push for Greinke?
The Orioles came out of the gates in scorching fashion, receiving tremendous production from their rotation, bullpen and offense. However, they’ve witnessed a progressive decline in productivity across the board with each month. If this persists, they probably won’t have the stamina to keep up with the Yankees for the division lead.
Obviously, trading for Greinke seems like the ideal thing to do if you’re general manager Dan Duquette. Baltimore has a bevy of prospects they could deal to Milwaukee, potentially even shortstop Manny Machado. The key to this deal will be whether or not they think they can re-sign Greinke in the offseason. If they feel they can, then this deal looks like a perfect fit for both parties.
This summer, the Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in a tough spot.
Traditionally a team that looks to acquire talent at the July 31 trade deadline in preparation for post-All Start game push toward the postseason, the Brewers — who currently find themselves at fourth place in the NL Central, six and a half games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals — could find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum come July if they aren’t able to make headway on the rest of the competition. If that’s the case, then there’s a real possibility for Zack Greinke to become available.
Scheduled to hit the market as an unrestricted free-agent this winter, Grienke has enjoyed a tremendous 2012 campaign. In 11 starts, the 28-year-old boasts a 3.46 ERA (2.04 FIP), 1.32 WHIP while striking out over 25 percent of the competition. His dominance has directly affected his free-agent value, leading many to believe that the Brewers aren’t likely to re-sign him at the end of the season.
There are plenty of reasons as to why the Brewers should be inclined to deal away their unquestioned ace at or before the July 31 trade deadline, but here are the five most important.
Greinke’s Talents Are in High Demand
Greinke’s preponderance this season has been truly astounding. Aside from the basic statistics I mentioned earlier, Milwaukee’s apparent ace has posted some pretty impressive sabermetric statistics.
Just to name a few, Grienke has improved his LOB% (left on-base percentage) from 69.8% in 2011 to an impressive 72.1% this season. He’s also increased his GB% (ground-ball percentage) from 47.3 % to a career-best 51.9% and has also boosted his IFFB% (infield fly-ball percentage) from five percent last season to a career-mark of 12.8%.
Throw in the fact that Grienke holds true to a 2.4 WAR (wins above replacement) that ranks best among all National League starters, and it’s easy to see why Grienke’s talents are in such high demand this season. The Brewers should act on his widely unparalleled production this season by dealing him this summer to a pitching-needy contender.
Greinke’s Tremendous Value Presents Unique Chance to Restock the Farm
The Brewers came into the 2012 season with one of the most shallow farm systems in baseball, with only a handful of youngsters with any real hope of making an impact for Ron Roenicke in the near future. While improvements have been made, they still have a long way to go before they can return to the upper-echelon of minor league systems.
If there’s anything to be learned from recent blockbuster trades, it’s that there is much young talent to be had. Given the fact that Greinke has been, well, the single most valuable starter in the National League thus far this season, I’d say there’s a legitimate chance for the Brewers to pick up a few solid youngsters from a desperate contender.
With the MLB Draft this week and the trade deadline approaching, Milwaukee has a unique chance to re-tool their farm system. Opportunities such as that don’t come around a whole lot, so the Brewers should act on Greinke’s value now in preparation for the imminent and distant future.
If Resigned, Shaun Marcum Would Be a Solid No. 2
In the event that Greinke were to be dealt away this summer, it would all but guarantee a re-signing of Shaun Marcum this winter. While Marcum is no Greinke, he certainly wouldn’t be a much of a downgrade.
From a production standpoint, the 30-year-old grizzled veteran righty is in the midst of one of his best seasons. Generally not known for his strikeout capacities, he’s upped his strikeout rate from 19.2% in 2011 to an impressive 23.1% this season. Moreover, Marcum has increased his LOB% nearly two points from last season — up to a very solid 75.1%.
No one will argue that Marcum is as complete a pitcher as Greinke is based off an all-things-considered production standpoint. However, given the fact that he isn’t likely to demand as much money as Greinke this offseason, his overall value as Milwaukee’s No. 2 starter wouldn’t be tremendously lower than Greinke’s.
Matt Cain’s Extension Puts Brewers in Tough Spot
When the San Francisco Giants made 27-year-old Matt Cain the richest right-hander in MLB history by signing him to a six-year, $127.5 Million contract extension through the 2016 season, it immediately put the Brewers in a situation they probably didn’t want to be in.
Many have speculated that the deal would set precedent for Greinke, another decorated right-hander, once he hits the free-agent market this winter. Already recuperating from the loss of Prince Fielder last winter, a small-market team such as the Brewers with a ton of contractual money committed toward next year isn’t likely to have the dough necessary to sign Greinke after Cain’s extension.
Owner Mark Attanasio may want to try to re-sign Greinke this winter, but it would be in the best interest of the franchise if he tried to deal him away at or near the July 31 trade deadline. Shelling out that kind of money can hamper an organization for years.
Are the Playoffs Really Within Reach?
The Brewers have been one of the more aggressive teams in the trade market over the past few seasons, and that in large part comes from the fact that they’ve been in the hunt for a playoff berth more often than not. This season, that isn’t the case. In fact, it’s far from it.
At this point last season, Ron Roenicke and company boasted a 31-26 record (including an MLB-best .750 winning percentage at Miller Park), just two games back of first place in the division. Their offense was raking at a World Series-caliber level and they were able to get some pretty good outings from their starters and relievers.
After Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Brewers now find themselves at 24-30, six and a half games out of first place. They’ve received mediocre production out of the cleanup spot in the lineup — unlike last season — and have gotten unstable and often unpredictable outings from their starters and bullpen.
According to ESPN.com, the Brewers have roughly an 11 percent chance at making the postseason, which ranks fifth-worst among all National League clubs. Anything is possible, especially in baseball, but ask yourself this question: Are the playoffs really within reach? If not, it’s only more incentive to deal Greinke.