Many scouts were on hand Wednesday in Cincinnati to watch Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke pitch, and understandably so.
Should the Brewers decide they have no chance to climb into the NL Central race and become a seller on the trade market, Greinke could be the top pitcher available. He is a free agent after the season, and if the Brewers think they have no chance to keep him and also no chance to make the playoffs, they might be better served to see what they can get for him.
Making that call difficult at this time is the fact the Brewers are in no-man's land in the playoff race. After losing two of three in Cincinnati this week, they are 34-41 and trailed the Reds by 7 1/2 games through Wednesday.
"We're still trying to win as many games as we can and put a good stretch together," general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We need a stretch where we go 8-2 or so to get back into this thing. If we do that, then that could change things. If we don't do that, then I've got to look at some other alternatives.
"I don't anticipate anything happening before the All-Star break. We'll use that as a gauge, probably, to see where we are at that point. Then we just have to be prepared to make decisions in the best interest of the club, whether it's for now or for the future."
Greinke's status remains the biggest issue. Melvin sent many young players, including shortstop Alcides Escobar, to Kansas City for Greinke after the 2010 season, and there's been no indication yet the free agent-to-be will re-sign with the team. The six-year, $127.5 million deal signed by San Francisco's Matt Cain earlier this season raised the bar.
There were talks between Greinke, new agent Casey Close and the Brewers until the sides agreed to table discussions just after the start of the season. There have been rumors the Brewers have made Greinke an offer recently, but Melvin shot them down.
That doesn't mean there won't be an offer, though. In fact, it's a safe bet the Brewers will make one last run at trying to extend Greinke sometime over the next few weeks before deciding whether to trade him.