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MLB Trade Rumors: Zack Greinke Sits Atop Atlanta Braves Wish List

The Atlanta Braves have struggled on the mound for most of the season, mostly due to youth and now an injury to Brandon Beachy. The club has been linked to various pitchers as potential trade targets in recent weeks, and today we learned that Brewers ace Zack Greinke sits atop the Braves' wish list for the July 31 trade deadline.

Greinke is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now -- arguably the best in the National League, too -- but he will become a free agent at the end of the season. Given his talent and that he is only 28 years old, you can bet he will be cashing in on his next contract.

Atlanta should have some money freed up with the departures of Chipper Jones and Derek Lowe after this season, and Tim Hudson will likely be gone after 2013. Even more could open up if Michael Bourn elects to go elsewhere in free agency this winter.

Here's a bit more on the Greinke rumors from MLB's Mark Bowman:

Barring a drastic change during this period, they will enter the All-Star break interested in the potential to land Milwaukee's Zack Greinke via a trade and then sign him before he would be eligible to hit the free agent market at the end of this season.

With Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson currently standing as the only reliable assets in their starting rotation, the Braves will likely make landing a starting pitcher a priority before the Trade Deadline. Greinke, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Edinson Volquez would be among their potential targets.

But if the Braves reach a point where they are committed to land a starting pitcher they will target Greinke, who would be the top-of-the-rotation asset that could capably replace the injured Brandon Beachy and have the ability to compete in a postseason setting.

There is no denying that Greinke would provide a huge boost to the rotation, but the Braves would have to work out a contract extension before shelling over the required prospects to land the right-handed ace. One would expect Matt Cain's recent deal -- about $117 million over six years -- to be a starting point in the negotiations, and that's a very steep price to pay.

If healthy though, Greinke would likely be worth that (and more) for years to come.

For more on the Braves be sure to check out Talking Chop.

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