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WAUKEE -- The brief but colorful Zack Greinke era is over at Miller Park. He's taking his complex personality and big right arm to Anaheim.
The Brewers traded Greinke to the Angels on Friday for a package of prospects -- shortstop and top Angels prospect Jean Segura, plus Double-A right-handers John Hellweg and Ariel Pena -- that addressed Milwaukee's future need at shortstop and helped bolster their stable of starting pitching.
Prospects acquired by Brewers
Jean Segura, SS: Segura, ranked No. 44 on the MLB's Top 100 Prospects list and No. 1 on the Angels' Top 20 at the time of the trade, just played in the All-Star Futures Game and made his Major League debut shortly thereafter. He can hit for average, with some extra-base power. He has plus speed, which allows him to steal bases and cover a lot of ground at shortstop. His strong arm helps there, as well. He has the tools to be a top-of-the-order catalyst in the very near future.
John Hellweg, RHP: Hellweg was No. 7 on the Angels' Top 20. The tall and lanky right-hander has made a very good transition from reliever to starter over the last year and a half. While his K rate has gone down, he's been successful with a plus fastball and very good breaking stuff. He still struggles with command, as he did in the past, but as that improves along with his changeup, he could develop into a starter at or near the top of a rotation.
Ariel Pena, RHP: Pena, the Angels' No. 14 prospect, has missed plenty of bats in his career, striking out nearly a batter per inning. He's also missed the strike zone a bit (4.0 BB/9), though he'd improved on that in 2012. The Futures Gamer can crank it up into the upper-90s with his fastball and couples it with a plus slider. If he can continue to show improvement with his command as he has last year, he could stay in the rotation. Worst-case, he has the stuff to thrive in the back end of the bullpen.
The Angels, meanwhile, landed an ace who was coveted by at least four other teams in a Trade Deadline derby that came down to the Angels and Rangers, the top two teams in the American League West. After winning that sweepstakes, the Angels will add Greinke to a rotation that already includes Jared Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
At least, they get Greinke for the next two months. He is on the cusp of free agency.
"That pitching staff will be pretty incredible," Greinke said.
There were moments in which Greinke himself was incredible for the Brewers, showing glimpses of the form that won him the 2009 AL Cy Young Award while he was with Kansas City. For Milwaukee, Grienke was 25-9 with a 3.67 ERA and 323 strikeouts in 294 2/3 innings.
He started 23 regular-season games at Miller Park, and the Brewers won 22 of them. But one of Greinke's most impactful starts came Tuesday on the road in Philadelphia, where he shook off a series of poor starts, including one strange stretch in which he started three consecutive games around the All-Star break and then took 10 days off, to pitch seven sparkling innings against the Phillies. He worked in front of 43,745 fans and a slew of opposing scouts, eager for assurances Greinke was healthy. He even hit a home run off Cliff Lee.
"Thank you, Zack," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.
Greinke said goodbye to Melvin and spoke briefly via telephone with Angels GM Jerry Dipoto before departing Miller Park. He was scheduled to start for Milwaukee on Sunday, an assignment that will instead go to Triple-A callup Mark Rogers.
"Obviously, we're giving up a fair amount to bring [Greinke] in here," Dipoto said. "That's a testament to the Angels' system and guys like Jean Segura and Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena. They're going to go on to do very good things and we're hopeful that this move will be a not just a short-term gain, but one that's good for the organization and the history of the Angels organization."
The trade ended a Brewers tenure for Grienke that lasted last than two seasons, a shorter stay than Melvin envisioned when he traded a quartet of top prospects to the Royals for Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancort in December 2010. Greinke helped deliver the Brewers to the 2011 National League Championship Series, but made clear as the 2012 season began that he intended to test the waters in free agency.
The Brewers made one last push in late June, expressing parameters of a deal that would have paid Greinke something short of the mega-extension right-hander Matt Cain signed with the Giants in April. Cain got five additional years and $112.5 million in new guaranteed money.
Agent Casey Close's response?
"I think it's just best to be a free agent," according to Melvin.
So when the Brewers fell out of the NL Central race during a dismal 0-6 road trip this week, Melvin shifted into sell mode. He narrowed the serious suitors to four or five teams, and ultimately narrowed it to two -- the Angels and Rangers.
Melvin and his staff stayed at Miller Park working out scenarios until past 1 a.m. CT on Friday morning, then returned at 7:30 a.m. to start again. The Rangers balked at the Brewers' demand for infielder Mike Olt. That made the Angels the favorites, with other teams lurking in the background.
By 6 p.m., an hour before the Brewers hosted the Nationals at Miller Park, the Brewers and Angels had a deal.
Of his decision to forego the Brewers' offer of an extension, Greinke said, "It's a business decision, I guess, is the best way to describe it. That's just how baseball is. But I enjoyed it here, and they say they enjoyed having me. Hopefully, the guys they got for me end up helping out, because I know the guys they gave up to Kansas City for me, some of them turned out pretty good. Hopefully, it's the same story here."
All three of the Brewers' new acquisitions were assigned to Double-A Huntsville, including Segura, who had been briefly in the Majors with Los Angeles.
In Segura, the Brewers get the Angels' top prospect, a 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic who has spent most of the season at Double-A Arkansas, where he hit .294 with seven home runs, 40 RBIs and 33 stolen bases in 94 games. He made his Major League debut on Tuesday and was scheduled to return to the Minors soon, Melvin said.
"It was a tough one, because I am very fond of Zack, not only as a player, but also a person."
-- Doug Melvin
Melvin sent special assistant Craig Counsell to see Segura play in person and gauge whether his future is indeed at shortstop. The Brewers will leave him at that position for the foreseeable future.
"At some point, he may go to second base, which a lot of shortstops do," Melvin said. "We're going to keep him at shortstop because we have a need there and he has the ability to play there."
Hellweg, 23, was 5-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 21 starts at Arkansas. Pena, 23, was 6-6 with a 2.99 ERA in 19 starts at Arkansas, with 111 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings.
All three players were in MLB.com's list of the top 20 Angels prospect -- Segura No. 1, Hellweg No. 7 and Pena No. 14. Segura and Pena represented the Angels in this year's All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City.
"It was a tough one, because I am very fond of Zack, not only as a player, but also a person," Melvin said. "You feel like he is a son to you when you sit and talk baseball. He's a little bit [of a] baseball junkie, probably one of my favorite players I've been associated with.
"It makes it always a little bit tougher, but we had to make a decision and turn the page. We're going to start seeing a little bit of influx of the talent we have in our system. These three players are players that we feel good about. Zack is going to be a great addition for the Angels."