Report: Royals trade Zack Greinke to Brewers

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We all went to bed waiting for a national reporter to come out and say if the rumors we were hearing last night were true and it turns out they are.

As first reported by Jim Breen of Bernie’s Blog and then Andrew Wagner of OnMilwaukee.com, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN.com that the Brewers have acquired Zack Greinke from the Royals for outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar and prospect pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. The Brewers are expected to receive another major league player in the deal, though his identity has not been confirmed.

The original deal mentioned by Breen had Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt and $2 million going to the Brewers for Cain, Escobar and Jeffress. Wagner was the first to mention the addition of Jeffress to the deal. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reported early this morning that the two sides were closing in on a deal, but he spoke to the agent for Cain and Jeffress, who had not been informed of any trade. The trade would also require Greinke’s approval, since the Brewers are believed to be on his “no-trade list.”

But let’s focus on the main part of this shocking deal. If true, Greinke will join Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf to give Milwaukee the type of front four that can go toe-to-toe with the Cardinals from Day One in the NL Central. The 27-year-old right-hander saw a drop in strikeouts this past season, but his velocity was just as good as ever. He should do quite well with the switch to the National League.

Some will say that the Royals didn’t get enough here and perhaps that is true, but they were able to acquire a shortstop and a center fielder, two pieces they didn’t have in their impressive minor league pipeline. Did you really want Melky Cabrera and Yuniesky Betancourt up the middle for this team next season? Because that’s what it would have been. Greinke has two years and $27 million left on his contract and it was pretty obvious he wanted out. My only gripe is that Odorizzi won’t be ready to contribute in the big leagues right away, but the Royals aren’t exactly set up to compete next season.

Lastly, I just wanted to say, go bloggers! Everyone doubted Breen, but he went with the story and is now vindicated. Well done.

UPDATE: Peter Gammons and Tom Haudricourt are reporting that Jeremy Jeffress may not be part of the trade. They are both hearing a player to be named later.

UPDATE II: Here are the full details of the trade. According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Brewers will receive Zack Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt and $2 million to cover Betancourt’s salary from the Royals for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi and a player to be named later. The trade will be officially announced later today.

UPDATE III: Ken Rosenthal, Tom Haudricourt and Adam McCalvy have all heard that Jeffress may still be the player to be named later. Stay tuned.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.