Should the Braves Trade Andruw Jones?

Once again, the team that never talks about it’s players is floating the idea of trading Andruw Jones. Andruw is finishing up another fine season in which he made $13 million. Jones will make $13.5 million in 2007 and then his contract expires. Today in the AJC, David O’Brien discusses the pros and cons of trading Jones—the first article in a four part series on fixing the Braves—and his tone leads me to believe the team is seriously considering moving him.

I’m torn, Andruw Jones makes a lot of money, and only in the past two seasons has he played up to his contract. He’s one of my favorite players, and I enjoy watching him play. I predicted that he would break out even more in 2006, but that didn’t happen; however, he merely played about the same. PrOPS says that Jones was unlucky in both 2005 and 2006. Maybe that indicates something is not right with PrOPS, or it could mean that he’s upped his game more than we’ve seen. Dave Studeman reports today that his early look at John Dewan’s The Fielding Bible stats shows that Andruw continues to be an excellent defender despite reports of his waning ability. (Studes also reports that 2007 THT Annual will include TFB’s plus/minus statistics, which I was fearing we might never see again.)

I estimate that Andruw Jones’s offense is worth between $10-11 million a season. I haven’t developed a system for valuing defense yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised that his defense pushes his value up to and beyond the value of his contract. Andruw is only 29, and I see some indications that he has some better seasons ahead of him. If I were the GM, I would not be eager to trade Andruw; and, I might be tempted to sign him to a three-year $45 million extension. I think there is a good shot that he’s going to be worth more than that, and even if he’s just a high-.800s OPS guy, he’s not embarrassing himself in center. Andruw likes it here (now that I live in Atlanta, I can say “here”) , and I think he might be willing to sign a deal that will take him through Cox’s retirement.

By the way, while we’re talking about Andruw’s contract, let’s acknowledge that the “Andruw went behind Boras’s back last time” story is total bullshit. It’s a great tale, but why would AJ retain an agent, to whom he paid a commission, just to ignore him? AJ likes Atlanta, and it’s not like he was stiffed. Boras got Andruw a good deal last time, whether his agent was in the room when he signed the contract or not. He might have taken a tad less to stay in Atlanta, and the story gives Boras some cover with other clients and GMs.

What about the pitching? Don’t the Braves need pitching more than offense? Well, yes they do. Who are you going to get to replace him? What can you buy more cheaply? Run prevention on the trade market for pitching, or run production and run prevention via Andruw Jones. I’m not saying that there isn’t a good trade out there for Andruw, but I’m not seeing any obvious targets. I would only trade him for a starter, too.

In conclusion, I think Andruw has a very good chance of having an MVP season next year. He’s a popular player, who at his worse is still a good players. I’d hate to watch him have a great season in another uniform. At the least, I think it’s worth holding onto him this offseason. If he fails to produce, then I suspect he’ll be movable at the deadline. Plus, his 10/5 status makes trading him complicated anyway. I say, put off the decision until it has to be made.

8 Responses “Should the Braves Trade Andruw Jones?”

  1. Marc says:

    I agree with you JC. I don’t think any trade for Andruw would really help that much–it’s not as if the Tigers are going to trade Justin Verlander, for example. I could see something along the lines of Jake Peavey, Scott Linebrink, say for Andruw, but given Peavey’s struggles this year, that would be an iffy trade. Trading for pitching is difficult and I suspect the Braves would lose more from not having Andruw in center than they would gain from another starter (unless it was a great starter).

    I also agree with signing him for three years; that would protect against his possible decline in his mid-thirties. But I don’t know about $15 million for a team with an $80 million payroll and saddled with other big (and largely unproductive) contracts.

    I don’t think they should trade him this winter unless they get absolutely bowled over. I’m not the biggest Andruw fan in the world–I don’t see him as the HOFer that a lot do–but they clearly will have a hard time replacing him and one pitcher anyway would not help that much.

  2. Frank says:

    I think a crucial part of the decision is the Braves payroll and ownership status for next year. If there is no other way to pay for some additional pitching, then trading Andrew might be necessary. But you’re spot on in saying that the Braves need to think carefully about comparing Andrew’s offense and runs saved in center field to the runs that will be saved by acquiring more pitching.

  3. Johnny says:

    Emotionally I don’t want them to trade Andruw.

    From an objective point of view they shouldn’t trade Andruw……unless someone is willing to do a deal like the one Schuerholz proposed to Boston, 2 plus arms and a useful everyday for Andruw. But the Sox couldn’t pull the trigger.

    Pitching, as always but even more so this winter is going to be at premium levels. It wouldn’t be worth it to do a one for one trade unless we get a Verlander or a Santana etc. Even then I would have to really think hard given the durability issues that even premium pitchers have.

  4. Mac says:

    Yeah, unless the deal includes someone who might be a star, I’m against it. On the other hand, there’s talk of ditching free agent compensation again and we could wind up not getting anything for him. But put it off until during the season; if the Braves are noncompetitive and Andruw won’t re-up, then we talk.

  5. Ben says:

    I’d love for the Red Sox to get Andruw, but I don’t know if the Braves and Sox could agree on what Andruw is worth. The Red Sox will undoubtedly portray the deal as a last opportunity for the Braves to get something in return for Andruw before his possibe FA departure.
    Maybe if a Manny deal netted a solid young starter (say, Ervin Santana, a pretty big if at this point) they could come to an accord, but given the track record of Boston’s front office when they set a value for a player they don’t budge. Atlanta’s proposal of Lester, Hansen, and Crisp was deemed to high and I don’t think Andruw has drastically increased his worth since the deal was shot down. If the Braves want that type of deal, I don’t think they’ll find it this winter.

  6. Johnny says:

    Andruw is at his highest value during the off season. The Braves deal from weakness if they are out of it and dealing in season. Besides Andruw is a 10 and 5 man. So this whole discussion is probably moot.

  7. Jeff M. says:

    Like many, emotionally, I’d like Andruw to stay. Moreover, if he’ll sign then the whole trade stuff is moot. And, I think the Braves would be idiots not to sit down with him after the season and see if something can be worked out (I’m guessing that they don’t need to be told this by another arm chair GM). And if he signs, the question is moot. Why, after all, would you trade a great defensive center fielder who often is explosive offensively as well?

    That said, I’m figuring that he’s out of here after next year. I don’t think the Braves will offer anything above 12 million for 2 or 3 years (which is less than Furcal got, by the way, and Andruw is SO much more valuable than Furcal). In such a situation, if you were Andruw would you sign an extension for 3 years 36 million? Probably not. So, between getting something for him and nothing but next season, I’m for getting something.

    If you can get a starter, a reliever, and an outfielder that upgrades LF, then we should do it. Or, perhaps, if we could get a team with deep pockets (like the Red Sox) not only to take Andruw but also to take say Hampton or Hudson as well, the payroll relief might be worth it. Heck, a question might be, would you trade Andruw and Hudson/Hampton for Manny and a cheaper/younger pitcher? Manny’s expensive, but only for the next two years (thereafter, he’s a “team option” player)?

  8. Trev says:

    JC,

    Sorry to be OT, but since you brought up THT2007, I was wondering if you had anything in it like last year? (Your PrOPS article was very good.)