DANA POINT — Khalil Greene, a franchise fixture for an 89-victory Padres club just two seasons ago, is now the subject of preliminary trade talks on the heels of his miserable 2008 season.
Clubs have expressed early interest in buying low on the shortstop, who batted .213 with 100 strikeouts last season before missing the final two months because of a self-inflicted hand fracture.
“We've had nibbles,” said General Manager Kevin Towers, who has met with other GMs the last three days at a coastal resort in Orange County.
The Orioles, Reds and Tigers are among those interested. The Nationals and Padres discussed a Greene trade this past summer, but the Nats aren't in play this time around.
Greene is guaranteed $6.5 million in 2009 and can become a free agent after the season. Keeping free agency open, he turned down a four-year, $29 million offer last offseason.
Relations between Greene and the Padres probably are not ideal. After Greene fractured his left hand on July 30, when he wacked a storage chest at Petco Park following a foulball of the shin and his 100th strikeout, the Padres stopped paying his salary, according to the players union.
A dispute between the Padres and the union ensued, and though the Padres eventually paid Greene his remaining salary, the club filed a grievance in an attempt to recoup up to $1.47 million in salary. Greene left the club some two weeks before the season ended.
The Padres have no advanced shortstop prospects behind Greene, who was replaced by utility man Luis Rodriguez last summer.
In the Jake Peavy talks with Atlanta, the clubs have discussed Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar. It is not clear that Atlanta would give up Escobar, a 26-year-old who is a good defender and has a career on-base percentage of .373.
“We're looking to improve the ballclub,” Towers said. “If we move Khalil, Luis Rodriguez is really our backup shortstop and second baseman, so we would create another hole by moving Khalil. There are some ballclubs that have interest in him, but they are also waiting to find out what the going rate is on shortstops.”