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A Hypothetical Angels Trade for Zack Greinke

A couple days ago in these pages, I looked at what sort of trade package, in terms of prospects, might be necessary for a team trying to acquire either Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels before the July 31st deadline. Specifically, I looked at what other front-line starters had yielded for their respective teams in recent years — using John Sickels’ prospect grades as a rough guide as to the “quality” of the minor leaguers in question.

Here, I’d like to engage in a practice that is both (a) endlessly amusing for the baseball fan and also (b) probably totally irresponsible — which is to say, using that earlier post as a foundation, I’d like to consider the hypothetical trade package a specific team might have to assemble in order to acquire Zack Greinke.

The hypothetical team in question? In this case, the Los Angeles Angels.

Last night — probably not under cover of darkness, as the sun sets quite late early in July — CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported not only that the Angels would be persuing Zack Greinke but that the club is regarded “by a person close to Greinke as a perfect fit.'” Regardless of the degree to which such reports are credible, this one, specifically, provides enough in the way of a pretense for what, as I’ve already admitted, is probably a mistake.

In terms of the sort of prospects which Greinke might yield from the Angels, we must first consider at least two factors — both (a) what needs, if any, the Brewers have and (b) what prospects within the Angels’ organization are comparable to those we’ve seen traded in other, similar deals.

To better guess at what the Brewers might consider their areas of need, let’s consider which players might be reasonably expected to occupy something like a starting role entering 2013 and the last year under which each of those players, respectively, is likely to be under contract. (It should be noted that, apart from a few starting pitchers and maybe Scooter Gennett, that the Brewers don’t have much in the way of prospects, currently, as Marc Hulet’s preseason farm rankings suggest.)

Here, then, is a list of 2013’s provisional starters, by position:

C – Jonathan Lucroy, 2017
1B – Mat Gamel, 2016
2B – Rickie Weeks, 2015
3B – Aramis Ramirez, 2014
SS – ???
OF – Ryan Braun, 2020
OF – Norichika Aoki, 2014
OF – Nyjer Morgan, 2014
OF – Corey Hart, 2013

Given this list, it’s fair to assume that shortstop is an area of need for Milwaukee — as Alex Gonzalez‘s option (dependent on however many of hundreds of plate appearances) won’t be vesting and Cody Ransom, despite having been adequate, is not really what any team would regard as an “answer” at short. Mat Gamel was only just replacement level through 75 plate appearances before his season-ending injury, so there’s the chance that the club will look elsewhere. Then again, Gamel was still the starter when he went down. An alternative is that Aramis Ramirez could move over to first base with Taylor Green taking over third. Finally, let’s consider starting pitchers of infinite interest to a selling team.

Looking at the Angels’ farm system, then, we will privilege shortstops, starting pitchers, and maybe a corner-infield sort. We will also look for ratings that were similar to the ones of the prospects netted by other elite starters in recent seasons. It appears to be the case — again, as we discovered in that piece from Monday — it appears to be the case that a typical package will include a fairly large group of minor leaguers (all the deals considered, for example, consisted of four prospects exactly), with one or two of those in the high-B range and another pair in the low-B or C-range.

All this considered, I decree what follows to be the most likely prospect package from the Angels system (Sickels’ notes on which you can read here).

Some combination of:
Jean Segura, 2B/SS, B (who maybe can and maybe can’t stick at short)

Plus two of the following:
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Grade B-
C.J. Cron, 1B, Grade B-
Luis Jimenez, 3B, Grade B-

Plus a starting-pitching prospect somewhere in the C-range — maybe Ariel Pena (RHP, C+), although he is maybe more valuable, at this point, than at the beginning of the season.

This, of course, is a game that anyone can play at home — either with the Angels, or any of the other teams that (per Heyman) have expressed interest in Greinke (links to the Sickels’ prospect ratings for which I’ve included below).

The idea is that, with some kind of framework established for what a front-line starter can yield, we’re at least capable of playing the game a bit more realistically.

Here are the links to other of Sickels’ preseason ratings: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers.