So, after hurting Derek “there wasn’t anybody holding a gun to their heads” Lowe’s precious feelings by openly shopping him (I guess you can’t really control leaks from other teams) the Braves traded Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan to the New York Yankees for [holds nose] Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino. As a Braves fan, I say “yuck” even though the deal isn’t really that bad. I liked Vazquez and I don’t care for Cabrera. But, when it comes down to it, this is a financial transaction, which I think signals that the Braves plan to sign a major free agent.
Here’s the deal. Vazquez is owed $11.5 million for 2010, and then he’s a free agent. I estimate that his performance will be worth about $12.5 million to an average team. Because the Braves and Yankees project to be above average teams, he’s actually a little more valuable. Even then, he’s not worth a great deal beyond his salary.
Cabrera is a poor man’s Jeff Francoeur. He’ll earn somewhere close to $3 million in arbitration, and put up some mediocre numbers off the bench. If he’s used properly—please, Bobby, use him off the bench only—that’s about what he’ll be worth. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him non-tendered after the season. Dunn and Logan are similar. Vizcaino rates high on many prospect lists, but he’s a long way off. Basically, this comes down to a swap of Vazquez’s surplus value for Vizcaino’s discounted expected future value.
The moral of the story is that when you’re paying a guy close to what he’s worth, you’re not going to get back much in a trade, even if he’s quite good.
The Braves just got a lot worse for next year as a team, but they also just shed a lot of payroll. The Braves aren’t expecting Cabrera to be the bat they need. To me this signals that the Braves are going after Bay or Holliday as a free agent, or they can take on a hitter with a big salary in a trade. Given the Braves problems with attracting fans at the ballpark, I think it’s important for the organization to build on last year’s momentum. Dumping Vazquez with no other corresponding moves doesn’t seem like the plan.