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06/26/12 8:08 PM ET

Greinke trade rumors starting to heat up

CINCINNATI -- The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is more than a month away, and teams are probably weeks away from making the first significant swaps, but the Zack Greinke trade rumors are already starting to fly.

FoxSports.com on Tuesday spoke to two rival executives who expect the Brewers to trade Greinke, a free agent to be, if they cannot sign him to a long-term contract by the Deadline.

The Brewers were in direct talks with Greinke about an extension, but those discussions cooled when Matt Cain signed a $127.5 million extension with the Giants on the same day Greinke re-hired agent Casey Close. Since then, general manager Doug Melvin has not discussed publicly any negotiations, if any exist.

"We've got to make a decision on what we're doing overall," Melvin told FoxSports.com. "We're hoping we can put a good week together. If we don't, we've got to be prepared to go both ways. A lot more clubs are starting to call now. Clubs are calling on different players."

Speaking specifically about the prospect of trading Greinke, Melvin told the website, "I haven't sat down with ownership. I haven't talked to any club yet to say, 'Give names.' I haven't had that conversation."

Greinke is 8-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 15 starts, including a no-decision against the White Sox on Friday in which he pitched nine scoreless innings. Greinke will start again on Wednesday against the Reds.

He is among a slew of high-profile pending free agents playing for the Brewers, who entered Tuesday 7 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Reds. Also due to hit the market are starter Shaun Marcum and reliever Francisco Rodriguez, plus starter Randy Wolf if the Brewers decline his $10 million option.

Adding to the Brewers' complicated decisions over the coming weeks is Major League Baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which includes a more limited formula for designating compensation-eligible free agents. Under the old Elias rankings system, all four of those players -- Greinke, Marcum, Rodriguez and Wolf -- were likely to net compensation if they played out their contracts and departed in free agency.

Under the new system, the "Type A" and "Type B" designations are out, and a team must offer a free agent a one-year qualifying offer equal to the average salary of baseball's top 125 richest players in baseball -- expected to be $12-$13 million next winter -- in order to qualify for Draft compensation. Also, such players must now be with their teams for the entire preceding season.

Theoretically, the changes limit the value of players who move at midseason. If the Brewers trade Greinke for prospects, his new team cannot count on a compensatory Draft pick to help replenish the youth it gave up.

Stay tuned, because if the Brewers continue to sputter on the field, they stand to be among baseball's most intriguing teams at the Trade Deadline.

Content in 'pen for now, Livan aims to start again

CINCINNATI -- Veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez is content with his role as a Brewers reliever, which Monday night meant making his Milwaukee debut in a tight spot. He retired old foe Scott Rolen in the seventh inning with two runners on base in a one-run game before the Brewers' 3-1 loss.

But Hernandez, 37, made clear he believes he still has life as a Major League starter.

"I don't know if a lot of people appreciate [that] I've got 176 wins in the big leagues," Hernandez said. "For me, it's good. I don't know for somebody else, but for me I think it's very good -- 176 is a lot of wins. I want to make it to 200. We'll see what happens."

Hernandez, who actually has 175 career wins, made 18 relief appearances for the Braves before they released him, and mostly pitched well. He had a 2.73 ERA in his first 16 games, then surrendered nine earned runs in a pair of appearances 12 days apart.

His ERA ballooned to 4.94. Hernandez's fellow Braves relievers said, "Welcome to the bullpen."

After a week without a job, Hernandez signed with the Brewers on Friday. He could make starts if necessary in the coming weeks and months, but for now he is continuing the adjustment to life in the bullpen.

"It was tough early," he said. "But this is what I've got to go. I know I can still pitch [as a] starting pitcher. But it's not happening this year, so I have to continue to do my job in the bullpen. I think it's great -- it's something different. I never thought I would have a save in my career, and I got one this year."

Last call

• Right-hander Shaun Marcum, on the disabled list with elbow tightness, had a much more encouraging throwing session on Tuesday, but he will not be ready to pitch by Saturday or Sunday, as manager Ron Roenicke had hoped. That means rookie right-hander Mike Fiers will make at least one more start.

• Corey Hart's absence from Tuesday's lineup was just a scheduled day off, unrelated, the Brewers said, to his momentarily scary tumble into the Reds' dugout on Monday. Hart was chasing a foul pop when he flipped over the low fence that protects the Reds from line drives.

"I hit my head when I flipped, but I was able to catch myself," Hart said. "I was trying to show my athleticism."

Hart said he'd been discussing with Roenicke a day off for the past week or so.

• Second baseman Rickie Weeks was also out as the Brewers stacked the lineup with left-handed batters against Reds righty Bronson Arroyo. Weeks struck out six times in his previous three games, running his National League-leading strikeout count to 88, but has also been slowly boosting his batting average this month.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.