Well, we’ve reached that time of the year. We all feared this from the beginning.
After Prince Fielder left via free agency last offseason, everyone thought the Brewers would still be able to contend. And, if they had a healthy team, they could have contended. But, injuries took their toll, and now it’s come to this.
The Brewers are currently 34-41, fourth place in the National League Central. They started an extremely crucial three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati the day before yesterday, when their record stood at 33-39. The Brewers needed to capitalize on this series and at least take two of three, but were unable to do that. Instead, they took one of three, which could be a difference maker- 7.5 games back is definitely better than 9.5 games back. But, the way things have gone lately, it appears that the long winning streak the Brewers need to get back in the race is highly unlikely to happen.
With each passing day, and each depressing loss (sometimes a win is thrown in every few days), the Brewers are looking more and more like sellers. And who is the biggest trade piece that everyone is interested in?
Unfortunately, it’s Zack Greinke, who has been far and away the Brewers’ best pitcher this year. With his win today, he’s 9-2 with a 2.82 ERA, and is bound to be an NL All-Star. He also finished June 3-0 with a 1.70 ERA. He’s been the Brewers’ ace and stopper all year. To cap that off, he’s invincible at Miller Park, owning a 15-0 record there since joining the Brewers.
With all that said, though, we have to take into account the business side of baseball. In the past, Greinke expressed his interest in remaining in Milwaukee long-term, but things have become complicated since then. Last year, Greinke fired his agent, and was acting as his own agent for a few months during the offseason. He finally did hire a new agent early this year in Casey Close. But, on that same day, Matt Cain signed a six-year, $127 million deal with the Giants. Greinke and Cain were both to become the most coveted free agent starters on the market in the 2012-2013 offseason, but obviously Cain’s deal affects Greinke. In other words, he’s probably out of the Brewers’ price range, which is likely why the conversations between Close and Doug Melvin have subsided.
So, unless the Brewers come out of nowhere and sign Greinke to an extension- which still isn’t completely ruled out, behind-the-scenes discussions could be going on- before the All-Star break, he’s as good as gone. And now we’re hearing about possible suitors; two in particular.
The Rangers reportedly had a scout at the Brewers-Reds game today watching Greinke’s start. Texas would make sense as a destination for Greinke- they just lost Colby Lewis to the disabled list, where Derek Holland already is as well. Plus, the Rangers were interested in acquiring Greinke the same offseason that the Brewers landed him, so it makes sense that they’re still gunning for him. Also, another interesting note- there was speculation that Greinke was pulled from today’s game early because he had been traded to Texas, but it sounds like that was just a rumor.
Then, I read an interesting article earlier today about another possible suitor I hadn’t thought of: the Braves. They’re also looking for starting pitching help. They have Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson in place as duel aces, but, beyond that, their rotation is very foggy. The ERA leader of the Majors, Brandon Beachy, is out for the year, Jair Jurrjens is attempting to come back from injuries and ineffectiveness, and Mike Minor has been just flat out ineffective as well. Not to mention the injury history of both Hudson and Hanson. But there’s a more interesting story behind the Braves situation: they’re already planning to sign Greinke to an extension.
Now, let’s not get to ahead of ourselves, Atlanta. They may have been able to pull it off with Dan Uggla two offseasons ago, but I think they’re getting a bit cocky here. Plus, they’ve already said that they don’t want to give up the amount of prospects that the Brewers will likely want. If they can’t even commit that far, then odds are they won’t get him.
As much as we’ve loved Greinke this season, we may have to get our farewells ready soon. Unless Melvin pulls an extension out of nowhere- which, as recent history shows, he’s not afraid of doing- Greinke is as good as gone.
Maybe we’ll be blessed and Greinke stays in Milwaukee, but the odds are against us.