Braves on the Block

With the Braves in the midst of another June swoon, it’s time to think about what the Braves might do if they fall out of the race. It’s too early to give up on the season, but I think the Braves are more likely to be sellers than buyers down the stretch. Here are a list of guys and my reasons for thinking these players may or may not be gone if the Braves decide to become sellers.

Andruw Jones: He’s got 10-5 rights and says he’s not going anywhere. I believe him. He’ll come out of his slump and finish the year strong. It won’t be a year he’ll look back on fondly, but it won’t dampen his free agent value much. Chance of being traded: 10%.

Chipper Jones: You don’t hear Chipper’s name come up in trade discussions much, but I think he is the Braves biggest bargaining chip (no pun intended). When he is on the field he is still one of the top hitters in the game. I can see many teams who would like to add his bat, and his salary is reasonable given his production. The Braves would prefer not to pay him if the team isn’t going to the post-season. The marketing focus of the team is on Francoeur, McCann, and Smoltz, so the team doesn’t think he’s much of a draw. He will accept a trade to the right team, and given the latest dust-up with Smoltz (which was entirely Smoltz’s fault) I would not be surprised if he is itching to get into a winning environment. The Braves still have Willy Aybar, and the Braves have been willing to give chances to guys with substance abuse problems. Chance of being traded: 60%.

John Smoltz: He recently signed an extension that keeps him with the club through 2009 and possibly 2010. I thought his divorce might give him the itch to move, but the extension indicates that he wants to stay near his kids. He has 10-5 rights, and I don’t seem him waving them. He’s a competitive guy and might consider moving if the circumstances were just right, but I doubt this will occur. Chance of being traded: 10%.

Tim Hudson: Everybody needs pitching, and just because he’s not the Huddy of old, doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable. His contract is reasonable even when the big money kicks in over the next two seasons. Ff the Braves aren’t going to win it this year, I don’t see them wanting to go with virtually the same team next year. I think the Braves would rather have the money than the pitcher so that they can be more competitive down the road. Chance of being traded: 60%.

Edgar Renteria: Like Hudson, he’s a guy who is a good MLB player and has a salary to match it. These are the types of players that contending teams don’t mind acquiring and the Braves don’t mind losing. He’s having a good year—playing above his head a bit in my opinion—which might draw a little more interest. Couple this with the fact that the Braves are high on Escobar’s defensive capabilities at short. Bobby Cox seemed to really want a legitimate shortstop after Rafael Furcal left, so that may be enough to keep him on the team even if some teams really want him. Chance of being traded: 40%.

Bob Wickman: He’s on a one-year deal and would fit into many bullpens. He’s as good as gone. Chance of being traded: 90%.

Rafael Soriano: He’s pitched well, and I know the Braves like him. He’s the best pitcher in the pen and he maybe should be converted to a starter. The Braves seem to like him as a reliever, and I don’t think any team should keep a player heading into his final arbitration years in it’s pen. Because he’s better than Wickman and locked up for two more years, I think he could bring a lot more. Chance of being traded: 50%.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: I think Salty is for real, and he’s the type of guy you find a place for because he is good and cheap. Though the Braves could get a lot for him in a trade, I don’t think the Braves want him to get away. Chance of being traded: 20%.

Scott Thorman: If the team keeps Salty, there is no place for him to start. I’m not convinced that he’s ready to be an everyday player, but he definitely has some value. Chance of being traded: 60%.

Yunel Escobar: I think people are a little too excited about this guy. He’s supposed to be 24, but we really don’t know how old he is, and he hasn’t been all that spectacular in the minors or majors. Still, he’s not a bad shortstop prospect and if the Braves part ways with Chipper or Renteria he could step right in. Chance of being traded: 20%

McCann, Francoeur, Johnson, James, and Davies: Young, cheap, and part of the Braves marketing strategy. These guys are staying put. Davies is the only one I could see the Braves moving if another team really thinks a change of scenery is what he needs. Chance of being traded: 10% (15% for Davies).

Yates, Diaz, Harris, Moylan, and Villarreal: Need one more player for that playoff roster? These guys might be a fit. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these guys are involved in a minor trade. Chance of being traded: 50%.

Addendum: Alright folks, things are getting a bit out of hand with the comments. I’ve rejected approval of half-a-dozen rude remarks. Feel free to state your opinion but please do not resort to insults. Look, this is a post that was inspired by an e-mail from my cousin on my thoughts about whom the Braves might trade. I decided to turn it into a post and thought as I wrote. Please, don’t take the “probabilities” seriously. I should have just said high, low, etc. And I certainly don’t think the Braves will dump all of these people. For those of you who are mad at me for suggesting the Braves might be sellers, note that I suggested what the Braves might do IF they fall out of contention. It’s speculation based on financial realities and little tidbits that get passed my way.

18 Responses “Braves on the Block”

  1. Brent says:

    Going a little deeper on the Renteria point:
    – Boston already bought out his option year, so he’s a FA after 2008.
    – Brent Lillibridge plays phenomenal defense at SS and was outstanding at AA early this season. He’s a solid on-base threat who can steal bases and play Gold Glove defense. He was the key to the LaRoche deal, and I have to think we’re grooming him to be the leadoff hitter of the future.
    – Elvis Andrus, despite producing zilch, still has all-world talent and factors into our longterm plans in some way.

    In other words, I absolutely agree that Renteria won’t be here much more than a year.

    Still, let’s not jump ship just yet (and I know you’re not, but some readers could get that feel). PECOTA thinks the Braves still have a 15% shot to make the playoffs, and that’s if we don’t make a move for outside help. I say that number needs to drop into single digits before I’m ready to trade main pieces.

  2. Ron says:

    JS added players when the team was much farther behind and playing much worse last year. Unless they have a July to match their bad June, I don’t expect the Braves to be sellers except for maybe trading Davies and Thorman. I’d expect the team to add some starting pitcher (probably not a #1 or #2) and a bench player. Moving people like Hudson or Renteria won’t happen until the offseason. I see the team remaining about where they are now for the rest of the season and finishing about 4 games back of the Mets with something like 84 wins. They will be close enough to keep JS from selling off high priced players but not enough to make the postseason.

  3. CT says:

    There is no way the Braves trade Chipper, part of why he’s such a bargain right now is because he signed with the Braves for the “hometown” discount everyone keeps hoping Andruw will sign after the season.

  4. JC says:

    I have reliable information that Chipper would accept a trade to certain teams.

  5. Blar says:

    Those probabilities seem a tad high. Summing them, the expected number of traded players is more than seven.

  6. Ron says:

    Hmm. So what contenders need another bat at either 3rd or DH excluding teams in the NL East? Or would Chipper be willing to go to one of the Texas teams to be close to his ranch even though neither of them are likely to make the playoffs?

  7. JC says:

    It’s a blog post on my thoughts on guys possible getting traded. Don’t put too much stock on the scientific validity of the probabilities.

  8. frank says:

    My fear is that JS panics and makes a foolish trade of Salty or others for short run help.

    Re the probabilities–I agree for the most part. I think the Hudson and Soriano probs are too high (I’d say maybe 25% and 10%, respectively) and the Renteria might be a bit low.

    RE Chipper–it might be good for both him and the Braves to trade him to an AL team so he could DH. He’s still amazingly productive–when healthy.

  9. Jason says:

    There’s a guy on the Braves who is on track to have 3000 hits in his career. He’s won a World Series and played well each time he went to the Fall Classic. He’s been healthy in his career and may finish with 200 homers and 400 stolen bases. As far as I know he’s been no problem in the dugout. Take a look at
    Player No. 4 at
    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/im-with-stupid-again/
    Who is this mystery potential Hall of Famer on the Braves? Edgar Renteria.

    So do I think the Braves will trade him? Of course the will. Far far better to give the SS job to cheap young guy who may not be able to hit even .250 than to give to a guy who is on track right now for the Hall of Fame, is not ridiculously expensive, and is a proven winner. Just like David Justice was traded, the Braves will foolishly trade Renteria, but I take some solace from the fact that Renteria will defintely go back to the World Series sooner than the Braves will.

    John Smoltz will NEVER get traded. He won his World Series and while I’m sure he’d like to go back, it’s a much bigger deal for him to finish his career with one team, especially if he goes to the Hall of Fame. The chance of Smoltz being traded is 1%. Actually it should probably be about 0.1% as things are going to have get pretty bad in Atlanta for him to be willing to give up the “whole career for one team” goal he has. A lot worse than they are now.

  10. John Beamer says:

    Toting up the odds the Braves are shifting 5 players!! That is a fire sale.

  11. Big D says:

    Chipper will not accept any trades trust me! He’s my cousin and I know we talked 15 minutes ago while he was on the plane to Florida. He did say that there is a “Big Fish” deal in the works but didn’t say whether coming to Atlanta or going from Atlanta. Personally I think he would like Arlington or Dodger Blue but he says no way for now. Maybe if Smoltzie spouts off again huh

  12. Rob says:

    With all due respect I think you are way off base. I’ll be the first to admit that at the moment this team doesn’t inspire confidence but this is a good team. As evident the last three days, this team seems to be getting back on track. They looked ugly in June but they have also played the majority of those games against the top tier teams in the AL. They are by no means out of this race. Despite the love affair with the Mets they aren’t that good of a team. They have just as many pitching issues as the Braves do.

    Now, if they do fall out of contention I do think that Renteria, Wickman, and Hudson should be moved. I am not going to dispute your reliable witness but I will believe Chipper getting traded when I see it. He is the Atlanta Braves. Trading Chipper would almost be like the Yankees trading Jeter.

    Truthfully, if the Braves are more than four games out at the All-Star break I would start trading guys off and looking ahead to next year. Escobar is a good player. Did you see the game tonight? He is the real deal as is Salty. Fact is, JS isn’t trading anybody because he thinks this team can get to the postseason and I have to agree. When you think about the Cardinals, A’s, and Padres making the postseason last year and the Astros the year before the Braves have a shot. This team is a good as those teams.

  13. Ron says:

    Probably true but they’re not as good as San Diego, Arizona, Los Angeles, and New York are this year. The Braves need to trade for #3 or better starting pitcher to make a real push for the Eastern division or the wild card.

  14. Shaun says:

    No way chipper gets traded. Chipper is the heart of the Braves. Plus his recent promise to play every game for the rest of the season make him even more valuable to us.

  15. Brent says:

    JC, it seems that my parenthetical note in comment #1 has turned into truth – readers do seem to think you’ve jumped ship for the ’07 season, and I thought you made it clear that you had not at this point. Still, I think it’s obviously make or break time for Atlanta.

    And as for Renteria’s Hall of Fame case, it’s true – his numbers put him in decent position to reach some of those magical career totals like 3000 hits. Still, I’ve seen what the chase for 3000 can do to a team. The Astros are sending their 2nd best second baseman out there every night. It hurts a team. There are 26 members of the 3000 hit club. In years in which those 26 guys got their 3000th hit, here are the winning %’s:
    Cap Anson, 1897, CHN – .447
    Honus Wagner, 1914, PIT – .448
    Nap Lajoie, 1914, CLE – .333
    Ty Cobb, 1921, DET – .464
    Tris Speaker, 1925, CLE – .455
    Eddie Collins, 1925, CHA – .513
    Paul Waner, 1942, BSN – .399
    Stan Musial, 1958, STL – .468
    Hank Aaron, 1970, ATL – .469
    Willie Mays, 1970, SFG – .531
    Roberto Clemente, 1972, PIT – .619
    Al Kaline, 1974, DET – .444
    Pete Rose, 1978, CIN – .571
    Lou Brock, 1979, STL – .531
    Carl Yastrzemski, 1979, BOS – .569
    Rod Carew, 1985, CAL – .556
    Robin Yount, 1992, MIL – .568
    George Brett, 1992, KCR – .444
    Dave Winfield, 1993, MIN – .438
    Eddie Murray, 1995, CLE – .694
    Paul Molitor, 1996, MIN – .481
    Tony Gwynn, 1999, SDG – .457
    Wade Boggs, 1999, TBY – .426
    Cal Ripken, 2000, BAL – .457
    Rickey Henderson, 2001, SDG – .488
    Rafael Palmeiro, 2005, BAL – .457

    Of those 26 teams that saw a 3000th hit, 17 had losing records. Only 2 teams reached the playoffs, the 1972 Pirates and 1995 Indians. I’m sure there are a variety of factors in play here for each team, but 24 failures out of 26 has to mean something, right? Get ready to make it 25 out of 27 very soon.

  16. Marc Schneider says:

    Hey Big D (Chipper’s cousin),

    That’s a pretty good trick talking to Chipper on the plane. Did they waive the rule against cell phones during flight so you could talk to him?

    I frankly think Chipper will be traded at one point or another. He is still a great player when he plays, but that’s not too often anymore. I appreciate that he gave up some money to increase the Braves payroll flexibility but it’s still a big contract and, unless Liberty increases the payroll, which I doubt, they need more room. And while I don’t want to give up on this season either, I don’t see this a being a championship team as currently constructed. They desparately need some pitching and while I think Davies still has significant upside, watching Verlander and Miller mow down the Braves the other night really shows the lack of power arms in the Braves system. They aren’t going to get anything for Andruw so Chipper is the only real asset they have.

  17. Big D says:

    You make alot of sense. ( I actually talked to him before takeoff. Our grandmother is sick and he was asking about her) I wasn’t a braves fan before Chipper. Of course I am now. I’d still love to see him in Arlington or Az. YOu make sense with your reason but I don’t see it happening. I’m leaving tomorrow a.m. for Miami so I’ll get some inside scoop. I won’t be back till thursday stay tooned! Ha

  18. Jugular says:

    To “Chipper’s cousin”: I was under the impression that JS kept a tight lip regarding possible deals with everyone, including his players. Remember how upset Andruw got when word got out of the team shopping him? You were right to call it a “big fish” deal, because that’s exactly what it smells like.

    That being said, the possible trade percentages posted on this site are just arbitrary.