For months now we've been hearing about just how big of an offseason free-agent market this would be for starting pitchers, with aces Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke all set to enter the open market.
Cain has already been locked in, and the Giants are in first place in the NL West. The Phillies and Brewers—both postseason teams a year ago—aren't faring nearly as well, meaning that the Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke drama may not wait until the offseason to play out, with both arms possible on the market.
As expected, the list of suitors for Greinke isn't a short one, with a number of contending teams being named among those interested in using the Brewers' ace for a stretch run.
*This slideshow will be updated on a regular basis—so while the post date will always show as July 16, simply click to the next slide to see the latest updates on Zack Greinke's status as July 31 nears.*
After weeks of speculation regarding exactly where Zack Greinke could end up by the end of July, it looks like we finally have some resolution.
Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin made it clear yesterday that Greinke WOULD be traded by the July 31 deadline, and just a day later the former Brewers ace has his bags packed for Los Angeles.
As reported by Jon Morosi of FOXsports.com today, the Angels have acquired Greinke in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura and minor league pitchers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg.
The Angels are still a handful of games out in the AL West, but with a move of this caliber, things are sure to get a lot more interesting over the next couple of months.
With the Brewers sitting 14 games out in the NL Central, the organization appears to be inching closer and closer to full fire-sale mode.
As this slideshow illustrates, there has been no shortage of speculation on where Zack Greinke could end up, but until now there hadn't been a definitive acknowledgment that the Brewers ace wouldn't have a future in Milwaukee.
That all changed when Brewers GM Doug Melvin told USA TODAY sports that Greinke "will definitely be traded before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline".
With Cole Hamels off the market as the top available arm, it comes as no surprise that Greinke is as hot of a commodity as he is right now, and with less than a week remaining before the deadline, we just need to wait and see which of his many suitors comes up with the best package to work out a deal.
In acquiring powerful infielder Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins, the Los Angeles Dodgers sent a signal to the rest of the league that they're looking to contend, and will do whatever it takes to do so.
The Ryan Dempster situation involving the Atlanta Braves came to a screeching halt after he exercised his ten-and-five rights, as he'd prefer to make his way to Los Angeles.
Should that scenario fail to materialize, Jon Morosi of SI.com is reporting that the Dodgers have Zack Greinke on their radar as a secondary option.
Given their place in the standings, you can't quite call the Milwaukee Brewers out of things in the NL Central just yet, but after losing some important divisional games over the weekend, they're certainly heading in that direction.
The Texas Rangers may be in a position to handle the AL West as-is, but with Roy Oswalt once again experiencing back problems and Colby Lewis lost for the season, they could definitely use some help on the mound.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXsports.com has noted that Texas could certainly be in the picture for Greinke once the team decides to get serious about fielding offers for their stars.
As has been speculated for some time now, the Milwaukee Brewers did make their own push towards ensuring Greinke stays in Miller Park for the foreseeable future, offering him a contract extension in the neighborhood of $100 million, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel.
Greinke did acknowledge that an offer had been made, but was willing to give up little more, simply saying, "We'll see how it works out. That's about it.".
With the team in an important stretch as it becomes either a buyer or seller, the tables could quickly turn on a deal of this caliber.
By this point it should come as no surprise, but it looks like yet another team has Zack Greinke on their radar, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXsports.com noted today that the Washington Nationals are showing interest.
Adding Greinke to the rotation would bolster an already strong starting five that boasts Edwin Jackson, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg.
The move could certainly make some sense down the stretch given the possibility of Strasburg being limited as his innings creep up, and having a pitcher of Greinke's caliber would only further solidify their standing as a contender for a World Series title.
The Chicago White Sox are one of the latest teams to enter the mix for Greinke's services, as Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com reported earlier today.
Any rumors about Greinke's possible departure were heightened today as well when it was announced that he'd be scratched from he next start, thought it was later noted that it would just to catch up on some rest.
With Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy and newcomer Chris Sale holding their own, the White Sox may not have the biggest need for another starter, but with Floyd battling elbow pain and Peavy owning a less than stellar injury history, the added boost definitely can't hurt.
Much like the Philadelphia Phillies are doing with Cole Hamels, the Milwaukee Brewers appear to be working on a deal that could keep ace Zack Greinke in Miller Park for the foreseeable future.
The 2009 AL Cy Young winner has been solid once again in 2012, with a 9-3 record and 3.57 ERA.
Should the team find itself unable to work out a deal to keep him around long-term, all evidence indicates the team should certainly find a buyer that would be willing to part with top prospects in exchange for the ace.
The Los Angeles Angels made the biggest splash of last offseason's free-agent market when they committed a boatload of money to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to help get the team back into the postseason.
Now it appears that they might be looking to make just as big of a splash in this summer's trade market, further bolstering their already solid rotation with Zack Greinke.
As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com points out, the team would have some company in their pursuit, as the division rival Texas Rangers may also have their sights set on Greinke.
With a five-game lead in the AL West, the Texas Rangers are definitely looking primed for another postseason appearance, but they may have bigger things in mind as they look to overcome two consecutive World Series defeats.
The Rangers have the tenth best team ERA in baseball and rank in the top third of most other pitching metrics yet are still looking to add a top-flight pitcher to the rotation to ensure they don't leave anything on the table.
As Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com points out, the team has set its sights primarily on Cole Hamels but would consider Zack Greinke instead if that wasn't a possibility.
We don't yet know how the situation will pan out with Hamels, but with the Phillies preparing to offer him a substantial contract offer, plan B might become plan A in a matter of time.
Somewhat lost in the hot first half by the Washington Nationals are the Atlanta Braves, who sit just three games back of the Nats in the standings and appear ready to buy in a big way to get over the hump.
With a plethora of young pitching in the organization, the team has plenty of talent on hand but lacks some experience, something that Zack Greinke could be just the cure for.
Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com has noted that the Braves could be an appealing destination for Greinke, given the team's readiness to compete, as well as the proximity to Florida, his home state.
Currently in the midst of a six-game winning streak, bringing in an ace would give the Braves even more momentum as they head towards the end of summer and into the fall.