MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers bolstered their starting rotation in a big way on Sunday, acquiring former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals.
According to reports, Greinke was seeking a trade out of perennial bottom- dwelling Kansas City, a rumor bolstered when he switched agents recently.
The Royals granted him his wish by sending the 27-year-old ace to the Brewers in exchange for outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar and minor- league pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi.
Milwaukee also receives shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash in the deal.
It's the second starter the Brewers have acquired this off-season, having sent infield prospect Brett Lawrie to the Toronto Blue Jays for right- hander Shaun Marcum earlier this month.
The Royals began rebuilding around Greinke by signing him to a four-year extension following a 200-plus inning season in 2008, which came two years after he struggled with anxiety and depression issues.
The 2009 campaign saw the right-hander come into his own. He led the majors in earned-run average (2.16) and walks/hits per inning pitched (1.07) to go along with 242 strikeouts and a 16-8 record for the Royals, who still finished in last place in the American League Central.
Greinke followed his Cy Young season with a subpar performance in 2010, finishing with a 10-14 mark and a 4.17 ERA, again for a last-place team.
He now joins a rotation that includes Marcum and 2010 All-Star Yovani Gallardo.
Betancourt had four relatively productive seasons for the Seattle Mariners from 2005-08. Since arriving in Kansas City in a 2009 trade, however, the native of Cuba hit a woeful .250 with a .279 on-base percentage.
As for the Royals, they receive a pair of young major-leaguers and two arms they can develop.
Cain, 24, made his debut with the Brewers last season and hit .306 in 43 games.
Escobar, after hitting .304 in limited time in 2009, struggled at the plate and in the field as a full-time starter last season. The 24-year-old speedster batted just .235 with a .288 OBP while committing 20 errors in 145 games.
Odorizzi, a right-hander, was the No. 32 overall pick in the 2008 draft and was considered Milwaukee's top pitching prospect.
Jeffress, also a righty, made 10 appearances as a late call-up for the Brewers last year and went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA. He was the 16th overall pick in the 2006 draft.