<
>

Clock ticking on Zack Greinke

In 44 starts with Milwaukee, Zack Greinke is 25-8 with a 3.45 ERA, striking out 303 in 273.2 innings. Benny Sieu/US Presswire

If the Brewers can't sign Zack Greinke to a long-term extension by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, some speculate that Milwaukee might deal the 2009 AL Cy Young winner. Our experts debate Greinke's future:


1. What do you think is more likely, the Brewers signing Zack Greinke or trading him?

Richard Durrett (@espn_durrett
), ESPN Dallas
: Trading him. We're just a little more than a month until the deadline, and that's not much time to get this done for him to stay in Milwaukee. The Brewers will deal him and get something back for him.

Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski
), ESPN Insider
: I think in the end, the Brewers will trade Greinke. The team's fallen out of the race, and if they get back in, it'll more reflect the weakness of the NL Central than the strength of Milwaukee. Signing him would be the best outcome, but they couldn't agree on a price last winter, and with only weeks to go until the trade deadline and Greinke's ERA standing at 2.82, the numbers on his next contract haven't gotten any more favorable for the Brewers.

Matthew Philip (@mattphilip
), Fungoes
: The Brewers aren't in any better position to sign Greinke than they were when they had CC Sabathia in 2008, and their team is further away from serious contention. I can't see them signing him.


2. If Greinke does get traded, where do you think he will end up?

Durrett: Tough one, but I'll say the Texas Rangers. It seems like GM Jon Daniels and company find a way to get involved in deals like this, and they have the depth in their system to pull it off.

Szymborski: It'll come down to the contending team finding itself in the toughest position in July. The 2012 Yankees without CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte is like the 1980s without Journey, and bringing in Greinke is better than anybody's Plan B. The Yanks also have the ability to give Greinke a long-term contract.

Philip: The Cardinals, who have basically two rookies in their rotation and are waiting for Chris Carpenter to return, may decide that Greinke can help them secure their division. The Braves are in a similar situation, having lost Brandon Beachy. Theo Epstein's Cubs, with a lot of open payroll in 2013, may ultimately be a suitor at the end of the season, but they have no need to trade now.


3. If it meant giving up your two best prospects for Greinke, would you do it?

Durrett: Nope. He's a three-month rental, and under the new collective bargaining agreement, you don't get a draft pick for him if he leaves. So that's not worth the club's two best prospects. But Texas has some very good prospects for whom they could make a competitive package to get him.

Szymborski: If I'm a team looking to pick up Greinke, I ask myself whether or not Greinke can legitimately make the difference between winning the division and winning the wild card and pull the trigger, especially if I can get a negotiating window for a long-term deal. If my team's limping in the wild-card race, I probably wouldn't, because baseball's new playoff structure makes winning the division much more valuable and a wild-card spot much less valuable. If I'm mortgaging the future, I want to escape the wild-card play-in game, not push myself into one.

Philip: Given that Greinke could be the difference for a contending team -- say, the Cardinals -- I'd consider it, though the new CBA rules, which would preclude the team getting draft picks if Greinke walks at the end of the year, make it a tougher call. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak recently noted that he'll be keeping an eye on the starting pitching market, so Greinke might actually work as a "Randy Johnson-style" rental, though it's not something that the Cardinals often do with no intention of signing the player.