Padres put Greene on trade block
Shortstop's frustrating 2008 season ended with broken hand
DANA POINT, Calif. -- If ever a quality Major League player in the prime of his career appeared in need of a change of scenery, Khalil Greene fits the profile. The Padres apparently have recognized this in making Greene, one year away from free agency, available in trade discussions.
At 29, with five Major League seasons behind him, Greene has a higher career slugging percentage on the road than Matt Holliday -- .484 to .455. The Padres shortstop plays a more important position than the Rockies' formidable left fielder, at a high level of proficiency.
This isn't to suggest that Greene is as valuable as Holliday. The point is, Greene is a gifted, proven talent, and he's on the market in the wake of a frustrating season that ended when he punched a storage chest on July 30 at PETCO Park, fracturing his left hand. The Padres have filed a grievance seeking to reclaim $1.47 million of his $4.5 million salary for 2008, claiming the injury was self-inflicted. That can't do much for their relationship with the 2002 first-round Draft choice (13th overall) from Clemson.
Clubs have expressed interest in Greene, Padres general manager Kevin Towers acknowledged Tuesday, adding that a deal could be connected indirectly with a potential trade involving San Diego ace Jake Peavy.
The Padres are exploring a Peavy deal with as many as seven clubs, five in the National League, Peavy's strong preference. Towers reported nothing new on that front Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in an Orange County resort hotel.
If the Padres are able to claim a shortstop in a package for Peavy, such as the Braves' Yunel Escobar, it would alleviate the need to get one in return for Greene. The Reds, Orioles and Tigers are among those who have reportedly inquired about Greene.
"It may be better keeping [Greene] and getting a couple of [compensation] Draft picks," Towers said. "Or, maybe get some pitching back and sign a free-agent shortstop. Or, Khalil's situation could be tied to a Peavy [trade]. If a shortstop comes back in a Peavy thing, it'd be easier to move Khalil."
Towers added that it is unlikely Peavy and Greene will be involved in the same deal.
Greene's 2008 season was by far the worst of his Major League career. He batted .213 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in 105 games, dropping his career average to .248. His 100th strikeout, after he'd been struck on the shin by a foul ball, prompted his dugout explosion on July 30 -- a rare display by a cool, collected athlete known for masking his emotions.
Just one year earlier, Greene had helped drive the Padres to 89 wins and a memorable tiebreaker game in Denver, the loss ending their season. He delivered eight homers and 23 RBIs in 28 September games, finishing the season with 27 homers and 97 RBIs.
Frustrated, like so many Padres hitters, by PETCO Park's vast dimensions and thick marine layer, Greene is a .225 career hitter at home in 337 games, compared to .270 on the road in 322 games.
Holliday, who reportedly could be moved by Colorado with free agency a year away, is a .357 hitter at Coors Field and a .280 hitter on the road. Greene has outhomered Holliday, 50-44, in career road games and produced two more RBIs (178) in 17 fewer games.
"I think he's underrated," Towers said of Greene. "When he stayed healthy [in 2007], he had a good year. He came close to 30 homers and driving in 100 runs, and you don't see many middle infielders doing that. He's playing in a tough park where it's difficult to post numbers.
"He's one of the elite defenders in the game. He's never won a Gold Glove, but he probably doesn't put up the offensive numbers to get a Gold Glove."
Greene, who is guaranteed $6.5 million for 2009, turned down a four-year, $29 million extension last winter. He earned $3.3 million across his first four seasons in San Diego.
Extremely popular with Padres fans for his spectacular style in the field and self-effacing manner off the field, Greene ran second to good friend and former Minor League teammate Jason Bay of the Pirates in the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year balloting. Playing 139 games, Greene batted a career-high .273.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.