As we saw last time he was about to leave a team, Zack Greinke has some very definite ideas about where he wants to play -- and where he doesn't want to play. And one former teammate said Greinke would like to be an Atlanta Brave, if given the chance.
According to Greinke's friend, he very much likes Atlanta, and its proximity to his Florida home would be another plus (Greinke hails from the Orlando area). Greinke, for his part, steadfastly has refused to comment on any teams beyond his current Brewers.
The Braves, meantime, are believed to like Greinke, as well, but haven't decided yet how hard to buy in the trade market after recent struggles.
The Braves have scouted Greinke and are considering a run at the free-agent-to-be star righthander but their lackluster play lately means they probably will wait to decide whether to give up top prosects for a run at the pennant. Atlanta, 41-38, has lost four of five and is five games behind the Nationals in the NL East. The Braves recently signed veteran Ben Sheets to a minor-league deal, and he starts his comeback Wednesday for the Double-A Mississippi Braves.
Greinke's friend still sees the Braves as a team likely to be high on Greinke's wish list as a free agent, despite their recent struggles. Over the past couple decades the Braves have won about as consistently as any team not considered to be a "major'' market. "Winning is going to be the big thing for (Greinke),'' the friend said.
Greinke rejected a deal to the Nationals two winters ago because he wasn't sure they were ready to win before accepting the trade to Milwaukee. Greinke's choice looked prescient, as the Brewers won the NL Central last year, but he noted this spring in conversation with me that he might have under-rated the Nationals' talent (of couse in that Nationals trade, they would have had to send multiple top young talents to Kansas City).
Greinke is a candidate for the the trade market, as the injury-depleted Brewers have struggled most of the year. Greinke, 9-2 with a 2.82 ERA, is a free agent after the year, and contract talks broke off with the Brewers shortly after the Giants signed comparable righthander Matt Cain to a $112.5-million, five-year deal.
The Brewers were hoping to keep Greinke on a deal along the lines of Jered Weaver's $85-million, five-year extension. However, Greinke is said to have turned down about $100 million from the Nationals at the time he rebuffed their overture, and Cain's contract and Greinke's big start have likely pushed his value way up, quite possibly beyond what Milwaukee will be willing to pay. There has been no progress lately between the Brewers and Greinke, sources say.
The Braves aren't a team that's been a top bidder in the free-agent market in recent years, as their payroll has remained at about $90 million for the last six years.