Brewers trade ace pitcher Greinke to Angels
Greinke will join a rotation that included one of the offseason's biggest acquisitions in C.J. Wilson, along with two other All-Star pitchers in Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, making the Angels' group undoubtedly one of the best in the American League. Through 99 games this season, the Angels' starters have a 3.98 ERA, good for 12th in baseball, but with Greinke now in the picture the Angels' rotation should have the means to compete for the AL pennant.
The Angels had yet to name a starter for Sunday's game — likely in anticipation of the possibility Greinke could start then. And it's safe to expect that Greinke will fill that spot and pitch his first game as an Angel against Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson, considering Greinke was originally slated to start for the Brewers on that day.
As for the players the Brewers will receive in the deal, Segura trailed only Mike Trout — who is on pace for possible AL MVP consideration — on the Angels' top prospects list, according to Baseball America's preseason rankings. And as a shortstop, Segura will fill a desperate need at the Brewers' weakest position across the entire organization and is expected to stay at the position for the time being. Just this season, Milwaukee has used five different players in that spot, after starter Alex Gonzalez tore his ACL early in the season.
The 22-year-old shortstop had been playing very well at Double-A Arkansas this season, hitting .294 with seven home runs and 40 RBI in 94 games. Segura also stole 33 bases at Arkansas. He was called up to the major league roster July 21 to replace injured infielder Erick Aybar — his first appearance at the major league level — but struck out twice in three plate appearances. He and the two pitchers will be immediately assigned to Double-A Huntsville.
Melvin shied from making any predictions regarding Segura's potential call-up — and did the same with Pena and Hellweg — explaining that the team wants to get comfortable with the new players before pushing them toward the major league level.
"We'll wait and see," Melvin said. "I don't want to make any promises that anybody will be here in September."
Pena and Hellweg also are highly regarded prospects, as Baseball America rated Hellweg fourth and Pena ninth in the Angels' organization. According to the same scouting report, Hellweg had the best fastball — one that reaches the high 90s — and breaking ball of all the prospects in the Angels' farm system. In 19 games this season for Double-A Arkansas, Pena — who's known as a strikeout pitcher — tallied a 6-6 record with a 2.99 ERA and an impressive 1.198 WHIP. In 12 games this season, Hellweg has struggled a bit with command, registering a 3.38 ERA with a 5-10 record and 1.379 WHIP at Arkansas.
To make room for all three players on the 40-man roster, the Brewers designated infielder Edwin Maysonet and outfielder Brock Kjeldgaard for assignment.
The prospect of obtaining a true ace like Greinke for even two months was enough for the Angels — who trail the AL West-leading Rangers by five games. However, some trade conjecture had surfaced in recent days that Greinke was willing to consider a long-term extension if he were dealt to the Angels, a team he felt comfortable with.
Greinke, a 28-year-old right-hander who won the 2009 Cy Young award with the Kansas City Royals before the Brewers acquired him for four prospects in December 2010, will be a free agent in the offseason, and Cole Hamels' six-year, $144 million deal signed with the Phillies earlier this week had already set a high bar for future top pitching contracts.
As Hamels was agreeing to his deal, Greinke solidified his spot as the main prize of the trade deadline sweepstakes when he pitched a gem against Philadelphia on Tuesday. He allowed three hits and one earned run and displayed superior efficiency with just 87 pitches in seven innings. For good measure, Greinke flashed Gold Glove-caliber defense and slammed a home run off Phillies ace Cliff Lee.
It was a performance Melvin said drastically changed the market for the Brewers former ace, justifying their decision to hold him out of his previous start.
"The best thing that helped this deal was Zack Greinke's performance in Philadelphia the other day," Melvin said. "Thank you, Zack."
The return-to-form performance was needed for Greinke after he had struggled in several consecutive outings and was scratched for a start to get him back on track. Greinke's 9-3 record and 3.44 ERA represent his best winning percentage and lowest ERA since he won the Cy Young with a 16-8 record and 2.16 ERA. Last season, his first with Milwaukee, Greinke went 16-6 with a 3.83 as he helped the Brewers to a spot in the National League Championship Series. He left Milwaukee without ever having lost a game at Miller Park.
With Greinke's contract with the Angels up at the end of the season though, Greinke said he would consider a return to the Brewers through free agency after 2012.
"Yeah, yeah, I mean, I haven't talked about anything going on with free agency," Greinke said. "But like I said, I loved it here. It'd definitely be a possibility."
The Brewers' rotation, which had been the one area of the team that had matched last season's division-winning performance, will now move on with Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf as the two holdovers from 2011. Rookie sensation Mike Fiers is holding down a third spot, and it's likely Marco Estrada and top prospect Tyler Thornburg will fill the last two spots until Shaun Marcum returns from elbow soreness that has held him out since June 14. Marcum, who was 5-3 with a 3.39 ERA at the time of his injury, also will be a free agent after the season.