MLB Trade Deadline: Why the Angels' Trade for Zack Greinke Is Confusing

Theo GeromeCorrespondent IIIJuly 28, 2012

MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 13:   Zack Greinke #13 of the Milwaukee Brewers was the starting pitcher for their series opener against  the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on July 13, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Pirates 10-7.(Photo by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)
Mark Hirsch/Getty Images

I’m not sure I understand the Angels' trade for Zack Greinke.

I mean, on a certain level, it looks nice. The Angels have a solid top four of Greinke, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren. That does look very nice. But the details don’t add up.

First, Greinke will test the free-agent market after this season. That means this move is good for the next two months only.

Furthermore, the Angels gave up quite a bit for him; they sent away Jean Segura, John Hellweg and Ariel Pena. The general consensus seems to be that the first two represent two-thirds of the Angels' top three prospects.

Pena is also considered one of their top 10 prospects. Going back to Law’s rankings, this represents, more or less, a top-40 prospect, a top-80 prospect and someone else just outside the top 100. This was not a small package.

Furthermore, this doesn’t seem to carry a lot of upside.

The Angels sit four games back in the West and hold the wild-card slot. Not only that, but they also seem like a solid bet for second place in the division.

Baseball Prospectus, for example, predicted they would finish seven games behind the Rangers before the deal (and gave Texas an 85.8 percent chance to win the division).  

Greinke represents an improvement, but not that big of an improvement—maybe two games, going by Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement. It makes the race closer, but I’m not sure the Angels become favorites to win the division.

However, the Angels seem like a safe bet to make the playoffs anyway as the Wild Card; Baseball Prospectus gives them a 65.6 percent chance of making it. However, with the new wild-card format, that only guarantees the Angels one extra game.

Unless the Angels plan on using Greinke in that one-game playoff (doubtful, since they have Jered Weaver), he doesn’t really improve their odds of moving to the second round.

Now, if they make the divisional series round, then Greinke helps. But in a one-game situation, I’m not sure. And even then, the divisional series is short enough that having four great pitchers still may not be enough—see the Phillies last year.

Basically, the Angels gave away three of their best prospects in exchange for two months of Zack Greinke, which gives them slightly better odds of winning the division (but doesn’t make them favorites) and slightly better odds of winning the second round, but doesn’t necessarily help their chances in the first round.

I kind of understand the thinking, but not enough to buy into the gamble. I’m not sure adding Greinke can help the Angels overcome the Rangers’ four-game head start, let alone be worth giving up as much as they did.

There were other improvements that would not have cost as much. 

This article is also featured at Hot Corner Harbor.