|Zack Greinke's brilliant performance Tuesday against the Phillies increases his trade value. (US Presswire)|
The season hasn't worked out like the Brewers hoped. But at least the Zack Greinke Derby is shaping up to be a real winner for them.
With Cole Hamels off the market, Matt Garza not pitching until Monday at the earliest, the Marlins asking for a "Teixeira-like'' package for Josh Johnson and the market generally not filled with anyone in Greinke's category, the Brewers should be able to get an extremely nice return for Greinke.
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And that's with Greinke being a rental player. And also with rental players no longer coming with the benefit of draft choices.
No matter, one rival GM said, "Doug's going to get something good,'' referring to Brewers GM and veteran trader Doug Melvin.
Greinke made that a near-certainty with a brilliant performance at Philadelphia Tuesday in which he stymied Phillies hitters (before the Brewers bullpen blew up) and hit a bomb of a home run off Cliff Lee.
"He did everything right,'' one AL scout said. "He's a tremendous athlete. He's a Gold Glove fielder. I think he knew he was on center stage. And he really put on a show.''
The one knock on Greinke was that he might prefer a smaller stage. And actually, that may not be the case, after all.
Anyway, here's our rundown of prime contenders ...
1. Rangers. They had Hamels first on their list and appear to be considering Josh Johnson and James Shields, as well, now. But they have the best prospects to trade, perhaps giving them an inside track. Baseball people knew the Rangers were in but started to get the idea Texas would mount a serious effort when it sent two scouts to Philadelphia, including Jim Colborn, a big-time guy known for his Pacific Rim work (he was behind Yu Darvish). There's been no request for maybe the best prospect in baseball, shortstop Jurickson Profar to date. It isn't known whether the Rangers would consider trading top third base prospect Mike Olt for Greinke, but even if not, they have other high-end prospects to deal. Greinke won a Cy Young in the American League in 2009 so the league switch shouldn't be an issue, either. Odds: 9-5.
2. Braves. The Braves like Greinke very much, and another positive, he is said to like them, as well, a big plus after their bad experience of being blown off by Ryan Dempster (who they expected to approve the deal to Atlanta). Greinke is said by one person close to him to actually love the idea of Atlanta long-term, as the Braves have been consistent winners (a big thing for him, though apparently not so much for Dempster) and it doesn't hurt that they train in his hometown of Orlando. The Braves have a very nice crop of big-time pitching prospects, including Randall Delgado, who was all set to go to Chicago for Dempster. Odds: 3-1.
3. White Sox. They are said to absolutely love Greinke, and GM Kenny Williams is a man who doesn't let prospects stand in the way of a run at a championship. The one issue is whether the White Sox could go toe-to-toe with the top two teams in terms of prospect packages. They do have many rookie pitchers on their current roster, however. With John Danks having no timetable for a return and Gavin Floyd out now, too, there certainly is a need. Odds: 5-1.
4. Angels. Greinke is believed to like the idea of the Angels, as well, as they have been a pretty consistent winner. The Angels have been talking about Shields, as well, but conceivably could try to form a package around outfielder Peter Bourjos, pitcher Garrett Richards and Jean Segura -- though Texas and Atlanta could easily beat that (that's why they're fourth). Curiously, too, no Angels scout was spotted at Greinke's Philly start. Odds: 15-1.
5. Dodgers. They appear to be playing hardball on Dempster, and with no deal struck, they could turn to Milwaukee. Los Angeles has some very good pitching prospects, as well, starting with Zach Lee, Allen Webster, Chris Reed and Ethan Martin but not ending there. Odd: 20-1.
6. Nationals. They do plan to shut down ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg, and once were willing to trade three to four top young players for Greinke and even extend him with a $100-million deal. Odds: 30-1.
6. Cardinals. They are included here as an under-the-radar club. The Cardinals are playing better than their record and are said to be considering a run at a pitcher (they were in on Dempster for a while). Top pitching prospect Shelby Miller hasn't had a great year, though. Odds: 50-1.
7. Orioles. Word is the Brewers mentioned top shortstop manny Machado, and the Orioles said no. They won't trade Machado or big pitching prospect Dylan Budy, limiting their chances. More likely: Francisco Liriano, maybe Bartolo Colon.
7. Red Sox. They are looking to upgrade the rotation. But one Boston person advised, "Don't waste your time [on this one].'' Odds: 100-1.