There are potential benefits to moving Vazquez
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has posed the question, “why would the Braves trade Javier Vazquez?”
While understanding all of the points that Rosenthal made, I still think the Braves will at least explore the possibility of moving Vazquez if they fall out of contention. But if they are stay alive, they won’t look to move the right-hander simply to free up money to acquire a big bat.
Now while saying there’s a possibility the Braves will attempt to move Vazquez, I’ll also add that they’ll be looking for a hefty return package that at least mirrors the one the Indians received when they sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers last year.
Because he was four years younger and obviously had a greater upside, you could argue that Sabathia definitely should have garnered a greater return than Vazquez. But while doing so, you’re ignoring the fact that the Brewers basically knew they were parting ways with Matt LaPorta and three other prospects in exchange for just four months of Sabathia’s services.
When Sabathia was traded last year, he’d made 18 starts for the Indians. During that span, he went 6-8, worked 122 1/3 innings, posted a 3.83 ERA, registered 123 strikeouts and issued 34 walks. Opponents hit .252 against him and produced a .306 on-base percentage.
Through his first 18 starts this year, Vazquez has bettered those numbers. While going 6-7 with a 2.95 ERA, he has worked 119 innings, recorded 136 strikeouts and issued 23 walks. Opponents have hit .229 against him and produced a .270 on-base percentage.
And instead of being a short-term rental, Vazquez will be under contract again next year at a cost of $11.5 million. Given that he’s averaged 215 innings and 195 strikeouts over the course of his past nine full seasons, he could certainly be viewed as an affordable commodity by a number of teams.
With some baseball executives saying that only a handful of teams are capable of adding payroll before this year’s trade deadline, the $3.9 million cost Vazquez would bring over the final two months of this season might eliminate some potential suitors. In addition, his contract prevents him from being traded to one of the teams in the West Divisions of both the American and National Leagues.
But the Braves have to at least explore this opportunity at a point when Vazquez’s value may never be higher. Dealing him could allow them to find at least one of the outfielders that they will be seeking during the offseason.
There was some thought that the Braves would begin the 2010 season with Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer manning two of their outfield spots. But with Schafer’s left wrist still ailing, there’s a chance that he’ll have to begin next season back in the Minors.
Looking at the list of outfielders who will be available this winter, Matt Holliday and Jason Bay are the most attractive names available. Unless Nate McLouth is able to persuade his good buddy to join him in Atlanta, I don’t see Bay as a possibility and Hank Aaron has a better chance than Holliday to be a part of the Braves outfield next year.
With Tim Hudson returning next year, the Braves already have a pitcher that will team with Tommy Hanson and Derek Lowe to give them the makings of a strong rotation. But they obviously need to add some offense and with Vazquez, they seemingly have a piece that will provide them the opportunity to upgrade their lineup before attempting to do so on the uncertain free agent market.
As previously mentioned, if the Braves fall out of contention, they might also attempt to move Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez. There are a number of teams looking to upgrade their bullpens. But with both of these potential closers being Type A free agents, the Braves are going to be looking for a strong return.
While it still seems unlikely that the Braves will be able to move Jeff Francoeur this month, they are at least holding out hope that a team might be willing to take a chance on Kelly Johnson. The Indians and Cardinals are among the teams who have previously shown definite interest in Johnson.
And to provide an update on Schafer, doctors weren’t able to detect any damage to his left wrist during an MRI exam performed on Tuesday. In attempt to gain a better view, a CAT Scan was scheduled for Wednesday.