MLB Trade Rumors: St. Louis Cardinals the Favorite for Zack Greinke?

Alec DoppCorrespondent IJuly 4, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 27: Zack Greinke #13 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the first inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 27, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Brewers have won four straight and have narrowed the gap between themselves and the division-leading Cincinnati Reds to just six games entering Wednesday's action. However, not everything is happy-go-lucky within the friendly confines of Miller Park.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Cardinals could have the potential to be a player in the Zack Greinke sweepstakes as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline nears. Though he remains unsure as to whether the Brewers would be willing to trade Greinke within the division, Rosenthal believes that returning to the state of Missouri—where he started his career with the Kansas City Royals—would be “particularly intriguing."

Here is exactly what Rosenthal had to say:

Greinke, who began his career in Kansas City, would be particularly intriguing — he likely would welcome a trade to St. Louis and a chance to sign with the Cardinals long term. It is not known whether the Brewers would be willing to trade Greinke within the division, but they should be if the deal would work to their benefit.

Currently just two-and-a-half games out of first place in the National League Central division, the Cardinals’ starting rotation has actually been one of the best in all of baseball this season. According to FanGraphs, St. Louis starters have combined for an 8.3 WAR (wins above replacement) rating, good enough for sixth-best among all Major League rotations and third-best among all those in the National League. 

However, it was just announced that former ace Chris Carpenter will undergo season ending surgery, effectively putting his comeback on hold. Adding Greinke—who currently maintains the highest WAR rating (3.5) among all MLB starters—could put the Cardinals starting pitching over the top.

So, how could this deal get done?

For starters, the Cardinals have a slew of prospects that could potentially lure Milwaukee into dealing Greinke sooner rather than later. Baseball America ranked St. Louis’ system as the 10th-best among all minor-league systems.

Leading the way are right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller, third-baseman Zack Cox and hot-hitting outfielder Oscar Taveras. However, it is not known whether or not the Cardinals would be willing to deal any of those players in return for Greinke.

Last week, I wrote a collaborative piece with a number of other featured columnists to see what the Brewers could get back should they deal Greinke. The Rangers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Braves and Red Sox appeared to be the front-runners in the sweepstakes, but if what Rosenthal recently reported is found to be true, it could be the Cardinals who ultimately nab Greinke prior to the deadline.

Alec Dopp covers the Milwaukee Brewers as a featured columnist at Bleacher Report.  Follow him on Twitter @alecdopp and read his blog, Brewers Rumors.