CINCINNATI -- The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is more than a month away, and teams are probably weeks away from making the first significant swaps, but the Zack Greinke trade rumors are already starting to fly. FoxSports.com on Tuesday spoke to two rival executives who expect the Brewers to trade Greinke, a free agent to be, if they cannot sign him to a long-term contract by the Deadline. The Brewers were in direct talks with Greinke about an extension, but those discussions cooled when Matt Cain signed a $127.5 million extension with the Giants on the same day Greinke re-hired agent Casey Close. Since then, general manager Doug Melvin has not discussed publicly any negotiations, if any exist.
"We've got to make a decision on what we're doing overall," Melvin told FoxSports.com. "We're hoping we can put a good week together. If we don't, we've got to be prepared to go both ways. A lot more clubs are starting to call now. Clubs are calling on different players." Speaking specifically about the prospect of trading Greinke, Melvin told the website, "I haven't sat down with ownership. I haven't talked to any club yet to say, 'Give names.' I haven't had that conversation." Greinke is 8-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 15 starts, including a no-decision against the White Sox on Friday in which he pitched nine scoreless innings. Greinke will start again on Wednesday against the Reds. He is among a slew of high-profile pending free agents playing for the Brewers, who entered Tuesday 7 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Reds. Also due to hit the market are starter Shaun Marcum and reliever Francisco Rodriguez, plus starter Randy Wolf if the Brewers decline his $10 million option. Adding to the Brewers' complicated decisions over the coming weeks is Major League Baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which includes a more limited formula for designating compensation-eligible free agents. Under the old Elias rankings system, all four of those players -- Greinke, Marcum, Rodriguez and Wolf -- were likely to net compensation if they played out their contracts and departed in free agency. Under the new system, the "Type A" and "Type B" designations are out, and a team must offer a free agent a one-year qualifying offer equal to the average salary of baseball's top 125 richest players in baseball -- expected to be $12-$13 million next winter -- in order to qualify for Draft compensation. Also, such players must now be with their teams for the entire preceding season. Theoretically, the changes limit the value of players who move at midseason. If the Brewers trade Greinke for prospects, his new team cannot count on a compensatory Draft pick to help replenish the youth it gave up. Stay tuned, because if the Brewers continue to sputter on the field, they stand to be among baseball's most intriguing teams at the Trade Deadline.