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.