The St. Louis Cardinals are supposedly among the many teams justifiably interested in Zack Greinke as the MLB trade deadline nears, but if those same rumors are any indication, any team willing to go after the Milwaukee Brewers' enigmatic ace, to use his full Homeric appellation, has to be aware of just how much he'll cost--both before and after the deal.
In prospects, Greinke is rivaled only by Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels as the most expensive deadline target of 2012. He's three years removed from one of the best pitching seasons of the last decade, but after getting beaten up on balls in play in 2011 he's returned to traditional-numbers form in 2012, carrying a 9-3 record and a 3.57 ERA into the second half of the year. He's one of the few players who might actually require the Cardinals to carry through on their apparent threat of trading Shelby Miller.
But that's only the first half of the expenses. After the Cardinals or anybody else acquired Greinke, the question of a contract extension would come into play. Just 29 next season, Greinke is one of the younger aces to come into free agency in several years, and according to Jon Heyman he's likely to turn down a nine-figure deal offered him by the Brewers.
Greinke could turn a team's season around this year, and their rotation around for the next five years, but it's not yet clear whether anybody will be willing to pay both prices necessary to make that happen.