Aggressive over the winter, when they spent big for Albert Pujols, the Los Angeles Angels struck again at the trading deadline on Friday, reportedly acquiring right-hander Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Angels were to send infielder Jean Segura and two minor-league pitchers to the Brewers for Greinke, the most coveted pitcher available at the deadline. Due to become a free agent after the season, Greinke was 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers. He was the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2009 and twice has won as many as 16 games.
Greinke in recent weeks resisted a contract extension, believed to be for $100 million over five seasons, and therefore became expendable for the fading Brewers, who have lost seven consecutive games.
Segura, one of the Angels’ top prospects, was called up from Double-A by the Angels when shortstop Erick Aybar was injured. He played in one game. The Brewers receive two Double-A right-handers – John Hellweg and Ariel Pena – along with Segura. All three are among the Angels’ top 10 prospects, the cost for two or three months of Greinke. That the Angels were able to make the trade without losing young pitcher Garrett Richards or center fielder Peter Bourjos was something of a surprise.
In a season they expected to challenge the Texas Rangers in the American League West, the Angels have found themselves short on starting pitching. Ervin Santana has a 6.00 ERA, Dan Haren has endured back pain and spent time on the disabled list, and the fifth place in the rotation has bounced between the rookie Richards and journeyman Jerome Williams.
If Greinke were to stay on his normal schedule, he would pitch Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Angels could push him back a day and have him open their series Monday against the Texas Rangers.
When Cole Hamels signed this week with the Philadelphia Phillies for $144 million over five years, the contract impacted Greinke in two ways. First, it became clear the small-market Brewers could not afford him if Greinke sought full market value. Second, Greinke became the most notable starting pitcher on the market. Also, it could have allowed Brewers general manager Doug Melvin to play the Angels off the Rangers, who also seek a starting pitcher. The best pitchers potentially available include Miami Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson, and Chicago Cubs right-handers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.
[Jeff Passan: Angels serve notice to rival Rangers with Zack Greinke move]
Greinke was due to pitch again Sunday, leading to speculation he would be traded before then. He has pitched once since July 13, when he was shut down for a full start to recover from fatigue.
In his final start for the Brewers, Greinke allowed three hits and one run over seven innings to the Phillies. By some descriptions an eccentric person, Greinke forced his way out of Kansas City after the 2010 season. He was traded to Milwaukee, which won the NL Central last season then lost in the National League championship series to the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first postseason experience, Greinke was 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA in three starts.
The Angels are expected to attempt to sign Greinke to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent. Their current payroll – $151 million – is the highest in club history, and they have $92 million on the books next season and $95 million the season after that.
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