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Trading Places: Angels Acquire Zack Greinke
Dan Port | Friday July 27th, 2012
The Angels gave up three prospects for Brewers ace Greinke. (US Presswire)
The Angels gave up three prospects for Brewers ace Greinke. (US Presswire)
After weeks of speculation about where he would be dealt, righthanded pitcher Zack Greinke was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday afternoon.  In exchange for their ace, the Brewers received infielder Jean Segura and minor league pitching prospects Ariel Pena and John Hellweg.  Segura had played just one major league game since recently being recalled by the Angels, while Pena and Hellweg have both spent all of 2012 playing for Double-A Arkansas.

Greinke was the most coveted trade chip on the market this month and had been linked to the Rangers and Braves (among others) in possible trades before Friday's deal.  The 2009 Cy Young Award winner made 21 starts with Milwaukee this year and posted a 9-3 record with a 3.44 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 123 innings, with just 28 walks and a 1.20 WHIP.  He'll be a free agent at the end of the year and had already rejected an over $100 million extension offer from the Brewers, so he was a natural choice for a trade from Milwaukee's standpoint.

By acquiring Greinke, the Angels not only bolstered their own pitching rotation but also prevented their division rivals (and current first place team) the Texas Rangers from acquiring him.  The Halos were not a club that many expected to be seeking starting pitchers via trade at the start of the 2012 season (due to their strong rotation core of Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, and free agent acquisition C.J. Wilson) but Santana's immense struggles this year (he's 4-10 with a 6.00 ERA in 19 starts) certainly necessitated an upgrade.

Greinke is a former Kansas City Royal and was acquired by the Brewers (with Yuniesky Betancourt) in December of 2010 for shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress.  The deal essentially gutted Milwaukee's top prospects but helped power them to the National League Championship Series last year.  He could start for the Angels as soon as Sunday, or possibly Monday against the Texas Rangers.  In four starts (30 2/3 innings) against American League competition this season, Greinke is 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA.

For Greinke, the Brewers acquired Segura, Hellweg, and Pena, who were ranked as the 2nd, 4th, and 9th best prospects (respectively) in the Angels' system, according to Baseball America's preseason rankings.  Jean Segura is a 22 year-old shortstop and second base prospect who is a good contact hitter and stolen base threat, and this season he hit .294 with a .346 on-base mark, 7 home runs, and 33 steals in 94 games for Double-A Arkansas.  He has a strong arm but he may ultimately end up as a second baseman as he matures.  He could also grow into a 20 home run threat as he harnesses his strength at the plate, and many scouts like his upside as a hitter.

John Hellweg is a 23 year-old righthander who has gone from a 16th round pick to a top pitching prospect by virtue of his high-90s fastball, but trouble with walks somewhat stunted his ascent through the minor leagues.  A move from reliever to starter helped him improve his control and his off-speed stuff (including a slurvy breaking pitch) in 2011 and this year, and if he can continue to make adjustments he could have a chance to be a mid-rotation MLB starter within a season or two.

Righthanded Dominican prospect Ariel Pena, like his Double-A teammate Hellweg, has had some problems with walks throughout his minor league career but also has a high upside and blossomed nicely in 2011 by posting 180 strikeouts in just 152 innings for High-A Inland Empire,.  This year, Pena has continued his development by notching a 2.99 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, and 111 strikeouts in 114 innings (19 starts) for Arkansas, and most importantly he has reduced his walk-per-nine-inning (BB/9) rate to 3.3.  Baseball America notes that his complex pitching delivery could ultimately make him a reliever, but he still has great potential as a big league prospect.

From a fantasy standpoint, this move really only effects Greinke because the prospects involved are not likely to make much of a roto impact until next season.  Greinke's value should be mostly the same, though he may have more opportunities to add to his win total as a member of a contending club.

Overall, the Brewers were able to take advantage of multiple suitors for their ace and got a very nice haul of prospects for Greinke, and the Angels may have acquired a vital piece for their run to the playoffs, so the deal could ultimately reward both teams.
Dan PortDan Port has been a writer and article editor for Baseball Press since the fall of 2009. He's a Wisconsin native and Los Angeles resident, as well as an aspiring novelist, moderately successful gambler, and avid craft beer aficionado. You can reach him at dan@baseballpress.com or check him out on Twitter @danport and at DanielPort.com.