According to a report Monday, the White Sox "have Zack Greinke on their radar." Whatever that actually means is up for interpretation, as it could lie anywhere on the spectrum from kicking the tires to legitimate interest.
Greinke has been fantastic this year, posting a 3.57 ERA with a 2.55 FIP in 20 starts. The White Sox saw first-hand how good the righty can be during his days in Kansas City, and he also threw nine shutout innings at U.S. Cellular Field on June 22.
The first question that has to be answered regarding the Greinke sweepstakes involves Milwaukee's willingness to punt 2012 in order to improve a lagging farm system. The Brewers are five games under .500 and well behind Pittsburgh for the second Wild Card spot, with five teams separating them from the Pirates.
Milwaukee, reportedly, will have a tough time keeping Greinke around after his contract expires at the end of the season. That, however, doesn't necessarily diminish Greinke's trade value, as the Brewers can still reap draft picks if Greinke signs elsewhere in the offseason. They don't absolutely have to trade Greinke, but if the right offer comes along, they'll likely take it.
Even for less than half a season of Greinke, he's likely to command a fairly high return, and the Brewers would be smart to look at getting a top prospect given their farm system entered the year in the bottom five of most rankings. With plenty of interest in Greinke and the draft pick option in Milwaukee's back pocket, prying him away won't be easy.
Of course, if everything goes right, the White Sox may not need Greinke. The White Sox need three of these four pitchers to come back healthy and effective or stay effective: Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Philip Humber and Jose Quintana. If 75 percent of them are viable major-league starters for the rest of the season, the Sox will be fine. And if Dylan Axelrod pitches like he did Monday in Boston, they may only need half.
That's not to say the White Sox shouldn't pursue Greinke, because he'd be an upgrade for every team in baseball. But do they need him? Maybe not.
Plus, the White Sox haven't made a major deadline splash for a half-season rental player under Kenny Williams since the first Carl Everett trade in 2003. Freddy Garcia was signed to an extension upon coming to Chicago in 2004, Jake Peavy had 3 12 years left on his deal when the Sox got him in 2009 and Edwin Jackson had a season and a half remaining in 2010.
There are still two weeks remaining until the trade deadline for something to happen, either in Chicago, Milwaukee or elsewhere around baseball. Maybe the White Sox have legitimate interest in Greinke, or maybe they're just doing their due diligence.
We should have an answer two weeks from today.