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With Zack Greinke, the Brewers are going for the gold

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News of the reported trade that would send Zack Greinke to Milwaukee is already sending shockwaves around the baseball world. We’re all still catching our breath from the surprising deal, but there are already many questions about why the Brewers would do this trade right now.

As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel just pointed out on Twitter, the one thing we do know is that Prince Fielder is not going to be traded. Fielder will be a free agent after the 2011 season and barring something out of the ordinary, he is fully expected to test the open market. This is likely the Brewers’ last chance to win with Fielder in the fold, so they are going for it.

The Brewers will now have Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf as an impressive front four with Chris Narveson and likely Chris Capuano duking it out for the final spot in the rotation. The Cardinals are comparable and the Reds have depth, but this rotation has tremendous upside, potentially rivaling the Giants for the second best front four in the National League (with obvious deference to Phillies at No. 1).

Offense wasn’t a problem for the Brewers last season. In fact, they were fourth in the league in runs, second in homers and third in OPS. With many of the same pieces returning in 2011, that shouldn’t change too much. What really hurt Milwaukee was their starting rotation. Their starters finished second from the bottom in the National League with a 4.65 ERA. With this new front four, they have the pieces in place to be a contending team.

Of course, it cost them. They gave up second base prospect Brett Lawrie for Marcum and now Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi and a player to be named later for Greinke. That’s a big chunk of what wasn’t an impressive farm system in the  first place. It could come back to bite them in the long run, but you can’t say that Brewers general manager Doug Melvin isn’t trying to win. New skipper Ron Roenicke must feel pretty darn good this morning.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.