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Zack Greinke Trade Rumors: Will Lewis' Injury Cause Blockbuster Rangers Offer?

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Zack Greinke Trade Rumors: Will Lewis' Injury Cause Blockbuster Rangers Offer?
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Greinke's start on Tuesday night will be watched with rapt interest by several teams, including the Texas Rangers.

Colby Lewis once resurrected his career by pitching in Japan and returning to the states. Now, he'll have to resurrect his career once again.

The Texas Rangers pitcher, who has been a workhorse for the rotation for the past two-plus seasons, will undergo surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, ending his 2012 season.

The Rangers will now be much more aggressive in their pursuit of a front-line starter, and Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke is clearly in their sights.

Greinke will be back on the mound on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies after missing a start and taking a 10-day break to recharge. Greinke started three straight games for the Brewers—the Saturday and Sunday games before the All-Star break and the one directly after—making him the first pitcher to achieve that feat since Red Faber of the White Sox back in 1917.

All eyes will be on Greinke as he returns, and many wonder if it's the last start Greinke makes in a Brewers uniform.

For the Rangers, they will undoubtedly have a scout in attendance as they look to replace Lewis in their rotation. However, GM Jon Daniels isn't tipping his hand quite yet.

"I think it's going to depend on the specifics of the situation," Daniels said. "We've been monitoring the market. We've had our guys out there looking at some different things. We've had conversations with clubs. I just can't handicap it right now. Our focus is still the same, which is to put the best club out there and give us a chance to win. But the deal's got to be right."

There had been much talk surrounding whether or not the Brewers would extend Greinke. Last Friday, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported that the Brewers had offered Greinke a five-year contract somewhere north of $100 million.

Heyman also cited a source as saying that "There's nothing yet to indicate [Greinke] will sign quickly and give up free agency."

When asked to confirm that by Adam McAlvy of MLB.com, Greinke said the report was "pretty accurate."

Brewers GM Doug Melvin has stated on many occasions that players in Greinke's shoes—those who are just a few months away from free agency—often want to test the waters first before signing a deal with their own team, making midseason contract extensions difficult.

However, the Brewers may not have that kind of time to wait.

At 44-51, the Brewers are currently eight games out of a wild-card slot in the National League, with six teams they have to leapfrog over in order to ensure a one-game winner-take-all playoff game. It's unlikely the Brewers are willing to wait for Greinke to make a decision on their offer.

That's exactly why scouts from several teams will be in attendance tonight at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia as Greinke looks for his 10th win of the season.

As currently constituted, the Rangers have a rotation of Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish and Derek Holland at the top, with Roy Oswalt, provided his back is OK, which certainly isn't a given considering he spent two months on the disabled list last year for that very reason.

Prospect Martin Perez has been called up to temporarily take Lewis' spot in the rotation, and Neftali Feliz is currently rehabbing his way back. The Rangers could always stretch out Alexi Ogando once again as well.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Martin Perez will temporarily replace Colby Lewis in the Rangers' rotation.

Scott Feldman also looked sharp on Monday night as a spot starter, picking up the win against the Boston Red Sox with a strong seven-inning effort.

There are clearly internal options for the Rangers, but Daniels certainly seems keen on looking outside, nonetheless.

The big question is—what is Daniels willing to give up to trade for Greinke?

There is one untouchable—19-year-old shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar.

According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, Rangers manager Ron Washington confirmed that.

 

 

It's likely that third base prospect Mike Olt is also off the table as well. Olt is currently bashing at Double-A Frisco, with 26 HR and 73 RBI on the season.

There are other chips that Daniels has at his disposal, but with the new collective bargaining agreement in place, Daniels knows that he won't receive any compensation whatsoever if the Rangers are unable to sign Greinke long term.

It's a slippery slope.

But as Bowden pointed on in his tweet, this is clearly the World Series window for the Rangers, and they'll have to carefully weigh that factor in any deal for an impact starter like Greinke or Cole Hamels.

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The Brewers are in a position where they can ask for the moon, especially if Greinke bounces back with a terrific outing on Tuesday. They can easily sit back and decide to hang on to Greinke if they don't get the return they're looking for and take their chances on signing Greinke during the offseason.

General managers like Daniels know that, and that's where the slippery slope comes into play.

Does Daniels mortgage part of the future for the Rangers in trading for Greinke, knowing there's a chance he may not be able to sign him long term? Is Daniels better off going after a pitcher already under team control, like Josh Johnson or Jon Lester?

For the Rangers, there are no easy answers. Daniels will have to make a decision based on whether or not he feels Greinke can help his Rangers capture that elusive World Series title.

The price he pays for that is certainly well worth it if that scenario plays itself out.

So, as the Rangers and several other teams have their eye on Greinke on Tuesday night, the Brewers continue to sit in the catbird's seat while perusing over offers that will no doubt come their way over the next few days.

The Rangers and Daniels will ultimately decide if they can make an offer that the Brewers can't refuse.

 

Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

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