We are a little more than 2 weeks out from the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, and there are many teams with many tough decisions to make as we crawl closer and closer to that date. At this stage, there are nine teams in baseball on the outside of the playoff picture but sitting within 3.0 games of at least a stake in the Wild Card.
The Milwaukee Brewers are not one of those teams.
At 41-45, the Brewers are 7.5 games out of first place in the National League Central and sit a cool 6.5 games out of the final Wild Card slot. Now, along with every other team in the National League, they are mathematically still in the hunt, but the odds of the Brewers jumping seven teams ahead of them in the standings are simply not on their side. As a matter of fact, according to Baseball Prospectus, the Brewers have a meager 9.4% of sniffing the post season.
So with the playoffs almost completely behind Milwaukee, Doug Melvin and the Brewers front office have a really big decision approaching as the deadline creeps into view.
What do they do with Zack Greinke?
The Brewers would love to hold on to the 28-year-old Greinke and reports, like this one from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, continue to show that that Milwaukee is still trying to keep him. However, the $100 million offer they seem to be willing to float may not be enough to entice Greinke away from pursuing the free agent market, where he may stand to replicate the contract signed by Matt Cain.
For his part, Greinke has more than earned his shot at free agency. He endured some rough years while playing for less than mediocre teams in Kansas City. For him to aim at chasing after a contract similar to the one the Giants gave Matt Cain is not far off, as both pitchers profile nearly identically minus the quality of the teams they’ve played for. Greinke would almost be foolish to pass up the opportunity to test the waters and at least see what is out there.
The Brewers have to know that Greinke’s desire to win and his desire to test the free agent market could like cost them the ace. With that in mind, it would be prudent on their part to set a deadline as to when they feel they should cut off negotiations and seek to trade Greinke and get what they can for him.
Now, with Greinke being in a walk year and teams knowing he is ready to test the market, the Brewers may find it difficult to line up a trade partner. However, Greinke’s desire to play for a winner far exceeds his desire to be the highest paid pitcher in the game. That said, the Brewers could easily prey on a team that is showing a sign of contention and equally desires a missing piece to put them over the hump.
As much as I personally hate to say it, the New York Yankees could easily be the match that the Brewers would be looking for. The Yankees have a pair of pitching prospects in Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos that have seemingly fallen out of favor with the club in 2012 and could be parted with. Pair one of them with the like of top third base prospect Dante Bichette Jr., and the Yankees may be able to swing a trade with Milwaukee for less than the cost of securing Michael Pineda a year earlier. Of course, the Yankees would seek to secure a contract extension with Greinke before committing to such a trade. However, given Greinke’s desire to play for a winner, he may be willing to forgo the free market.
The Rangers could also be in on a deal for Greinke, and like the Yankees, would demand a contract extension in exchange for any significant package. Any deal with Texas would have to revolve around either Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt and the addition of either Martin Perez or Neil Ramirez may swing a trade in Texas’s direction. That said, the Rangers are said to be willing to talk about anyone outside of Profar or Olt, but their desire to hold off the Angels and go for the shot at making the third time the charm may outweigh their desire to hold onto both of their top hitting prospects.
If those two teams come calling and bring an offer like those above, the Brewers will be all ears.
In addition to his work at Call to the Pen, Kyle can be found casting his thoughts on small market baseball on The Baseball Big Brother Project. You can also follow his other dribbles on twitter @BBallBigBrother