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Zack Greinke Headed to Milwaukee In Blockbuster Trade

Update: According to Jon Heyman, the Brewers had a deal in place to send Greinke to the Nationals, but Greinke refused it because he feels Milwaukee is closer to contention. The Braves just dodged a bullet there, as they would have had to face Greinke several times during the next couple years.

Don't go blaming me for being late to the scene. I was on top of the Zack Greinke to the Brewers rumors last night, even though I doubted it like everyone else. I waited up for the announcement until I realized it was not coming that late, and then I missed it this morning. Sunday morning is not the time to be announcing blockbuster trades.

Anyhow, Greinke is indeed going to the Brewers. The Royals will receive shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, minor league pitcher Jake Odorizzi and minor league pitcher Jeremy Jeffress. The Royals are also sending shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to Milwaukee.

My first reaction is that there is no blue chip prospect in this package. No highlight player that pushes the Royals to one of the best farm systems in the history of baseball, as some predicted might happen as a result of Greinke's haul. Escobar is a good fielding shortstop with no bat who will provide an upgrade on defense and not much else. He has great speed but has yet to figure out how to use it while sitting in the dugout after groundouts. However, he will only be 24 in 2011 and has shown signs of being a good enough contact hitter to make it at the top of the Royals' lineup for now.

The Brewers thought very highly of Cain in the trade market, as they seemed to be asking far too much for him from the Braves during the Winter Meetings. He is an athletic center fielder who will provide the Royals with solid defense, and his bat continues to progress. His minor league numbers show a slight chink in the contact department, and his lack of power means he will need to work on it, but he is athletic and turns 25 in 2011.

Odorizzi and Jeffress were the two top pitching prospects in the Milwaukee system. Odorizzi was a supplemental first rounder in 2008 and has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. He is raw and will move through the system slowly, but a 2.93 FIP and 10.07 K/9 in A-ball at 20 last season shows he has some great stuff. Jeffress has a fastball that touches the upper 90s with a solid curve. He was moved to the bullpen full time in 2010 and provides the ceiling of a closer, but his terrible makeup issues are the big question.

Meanwhile, the Brewers receive their ace. You cannot blame them for not trying to improve on an awful pitching staff, as they have gutted out their farm system to acquire Greinke and Shaun Marcum, resulting in a strong front three along with Yovani Gallardo. Whether it is enough to put them on top in the NL Central is yet to be determined, but they went a long way toward that with this trade. How it affects them three years from now is something they probably do not want to think about at the moment.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.