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The Los Angeles Angels made their latest big move Friday, acquiring ace pitcher Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers for rookie shortstop Jean Segura and two minor leaguers.
By winning the sweepstakes for Greinke, perhaps the most-prized arm available before Tuesday's trade deadline, the aggressive Angels followed up a huge offseason highlighted by the big-money signings of free-agent stars Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
"It should be fun. They are a great team," Greinke said in Milwaukee when the deal was completed. "After the first month of the season, they have been one of the best teams in baseball. There is a lot of talent there. A lot of great players. The pitching staff will be pretty incredible."
Greinke joins an outstanding rotation that includes fellow All-Stars Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Wilson and Ervin Santana, who has struggled badly this season. The Angels began the day five games behind first-place Texas in the AL West but in position for a wild card.
"It's an exciting day," first-year general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "We hope that this move will be not just a short-term gain, but one that's good for the organization. We're excited to see what kind of a difference he can make."
The rival Rangers were among several teams thought to be pursuing Greinke, along with the Braves and White Sox. To land him, Los Angeles also sent Double-A right-handers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg to Milwaukee.
"I tried to narrow it down to four or five teams and then as we moved on zeroed in on three teams and then it got down to two teams at the end," Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said. "We had two good offers. It was very close between the two teams at the end."
Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, is 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts this season. The 28-year-old right-hander can become a free agent after the World Series.
Due to changes in baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, the Angels will not receive draft-pick compensation if Greinke leaves as a free agent next winter. The pitcher didn't rule out re-signing with Milwaukee.
"I am going to miss my time here. It was a lot of fun," he said. "We have a great group of guys. We really liked each other and got along."
Greinke last pitched on Tuesday, limiting the Philadelphia Phillies to one run in seven innings. He also homered off Cliff Lee.
Angels right fielder Torii Hunter called the move "awesome."
"Having Zack Greinke over here, you can't beat it. He's one of the elite pitchers in the game," Hunter said. "This is the best pitching staff I've been a part of in my career."
Greinke was scheduled to pitch Sunday for the Brewers. Instead, he'll start for the Angels against Tampa Bay.
Milwaukee obtained Greinke from the Kansas City Royals before the 2011 season. He helped the Brewers win the NL Central and reach the league championship series, but Milwaukee (44-54) has slumped to fourth place this year after free-agent slugger Prince Fielder left for Detroit last offseason.
Melvin said trading Greinke was a difficult decision.
"I am very fond of Zack, not only as a player but as a person. He is one of my favorite players that I've ever been associated with. It makes it a little bit tougher," the GM explained. "We had to make a decision to turn the page. These three players are players we feel good about. Zack is going to be a great addition for the Angels and help them out. We appreciate everything he did for us. He did all we can ask of him."
But with Greinke in position to seek contract offers in excess of $100 million next winter, the Brewers decided to get what they could for him.
"It's not something I hoped to do at this time of the year," Melvin said. "I had hoped to be in a position to maybe acquire a player. That's the way the game goes sometimes."
Greinke is 85-76 with a 3.79 ERA in nine major league seasons. Early in his career with Kansas City, he walked away from baseball for a while because of social anxiety disorder, a condition he has learned to handle. But some question whether he'd be a comfortable fit in a large media market.
"We're not in the mode right now of discussing 2013 and beyond," Dipoto said. "We're going to let Zack come in and settle in with the Angels. I think he wants to be here. He's excited about the move and excited about coming here and playing with a team that's in a position like we are."
The 22-year-old Segura, considered one of the best prospects in the Angels' system, was called up to the big leagues Tuesday and went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against the Royals. He was batting .294 with seven homers and 33 stolen bases at Double-A Arkansas, where Hellweg and Pena were among his teammates.
The 6-foot-9 Hellweg was 5-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 21 starts for Arkansas. Pena was 6-6 with a 2.99 ERA in 19 starts, and his 111 strikeouts were tied for second in the Texas League.
Baseball America ranked Hellweg as the Angels' fourth-best prospect going into this season. Pena was rated ninth. Both pitchers are 23.
All three new acquisitions for the Brewers are headed to Double-A Huntsville.
"We went into this without presuming that we were going to make any moves," Dipoto said. "But when you're given the opportunity to acquire a player like that, you're going to go a little over and beyond. It was going to be pretty fierce competition to gain his services. We were aggressive and made the deal today with players, quite frankly, that are painful to lose."