Every team in baseball would see an immediate improvement in their pitching rotation if they were able to pry Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. The question is, what would it take for the Brewers to part ways with their soon to be free agent staff ace?
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Brewers are making one last ditch effort to sign the 28-year-old right-hander. Despite the $100 million offer from the Brewers, Heyman thinks it is likely Greinke prefers to test the waters in free agency. If Zack Greinke indeed desires to be a free agent, rather than resigning with the Brewers or any team, then his value is some what diminished.
A rental player does not demand the same trade value when compared to a player that would be under a team's control for more than a single playoff run. A perfect example of the cost disparity between a rental player versus a non-rental player in the trade market is the Atlanta Braves' infamous trade for Mark Teixeira in 2007.
When acquired from the Texas Rangers, Teixeira was under contract until the end of the 2008 season. To pull off a trade for one of the game's best first baseman, while still under contract, the Braves paid a hefty price. The Braves gave up Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to land the star first baseman.
The Atlanta Braves failed to make all their postseason dreams come true in 2007, despite the acquisition of the productive Teixeira. When they saw that their 2008 season was to also share the same ill-fate as the 2007 season, they decided to make Teixeira available. At the end of the 2008 season, Mark Teixeira was going to become a free agent, and demand a price well beyond what the Braves front office was willing to pay. The Braves would have been left with absolutely nothing if they let Teixeira walk off at the end of the season. In order to retain any semblance of value from their previous trade, the Braves shopped the All-Star first baseman.
As it so happened, the Angels were in the market for an offensive difference maker in 2008, even if they were only able to rent him for their last 54 games. When the Braves traded off Teixeira, they were only able to get Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek in return. As you can see, trading for a rental player doesn't require anywhere near the same cost as trading for a controllable player does.
For something a little more recent, you can look at the San Francisco Giants' trade at the end of the 2011 trading deadline. The Giants only shipped the Mets a single pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, in return for one of the game's best outfield bats—Carlos Beltran. While Wheeler was considered a top 100 prospect—according to the 2011 MLB.com prospect tracker—he isn't the talent equivalent of Carlos Beltran.
It is important to keep in mind that Greinke would only be traded as a rental player and not a player who is controllable over the next few seasons.
The Brewers are also not guaranteed to be sellers with this new wild card system. It is logical to assume that they would hold out as long as they could, when trading away players, to give themselves the best chance at getting back into the playoff race.
If the Brewers decide not to pull the trigger on a deal involving Greinke until the last day of the trading deadline, the Braves would only have 59 games left to play in the regular season. Factoring in that Greinke will be pitching every fifth day, you are looking at him only taking the mound for 11-12 starts before the playoffs.
With those facts in mind, let's continue with the possible deals.