Melvin says Greinke will be traded
It’s no longer a matter of whether Zack Greinke will be traded.
It’s a matter of when.
General manager Doug Melvin took the rare step Thursday of telling USA Today that Greinke would be dealt before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. CT nonwaiver Trade Deadline, a declaration that removed any lingering hope that the team might be able to extend Greinke’s contract beyond the end of his season.
Melvin told the newspaper that he hadn’t had any formal negotiations with Greinke or agent Casey Close since the end of Spring Training, and said the Brewers had been informed that Greinke intends to test the free agent market.
That means last week’s report that the Brewers had extended a five year offer in excess of $100 million — a report Greinke himself confirmed — was slightly inaccurate. More likely, Melvin and Close informally discussed parameters of a potential deal, and the Greinke camp decided the sides’ expectations were too far apart.
“I’m very fond of him,” Melvin told USA Today. “He’s one of my favorite players I ever had. Really, he’s been like a son to me. I enjoyed talking baseball with him. He’s very passionate. He follows the game. It’s been a great experience having him for a year and a half.
“There are so many good things about him, it’s going to be difficult when we trade him.”
Melvin’s comments come on the heels of the Brewers’ 0-6 road trip to Cincinnati and Philadelphia, a dismal stretch that left them nine games under .500 and 13 1/2 games behind the Reds in the National League Central.
Greinke, 28, is 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 Brewers starts this season and is coming off a seven-inning gem in Philadelphia. That game was attended by a slew of scouts. Among the clubs known to have interest in Greinke, the best available arm on the trade market now that the Phillies have locked-up left-hander Cole Hamels, are the Rangers, Braves, Dodgers, Orioles and White Sox.
The Rangers and Braves appear the most serious suitors, with top Rangers scouts attending Greinke’s starts for weeks and the Braves moving on after a tentative trade with the Cubs for right-hander Ryan Dempster fell apart.
“If you’re in a pennant race,” Melvin told the newspaper, “this guy is a difference maker.”
Greinke is scheduled to start again for the Brewers on Sunday, two days before the Trade Deadline. If he’s traded before then, the Brewers would probably reinstate 23-year-old Tyler Thornburg to the rotation.
The Brewers could also try to trade closer Francisco Rodriguez, who suffered two blown saves in the just-completed Phillies series, and catcher George Kottaras, who was designated for assignment on Thursday morning. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez and first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart have also appeared in trade rumors, but both are signed beyond this season.
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