Braves still weighing their options
(This entry has been updated since being originally published around noon. It was originally written for our MLB.com trade blog.)
As Braves fans debate whether it would be better to acquire B.J. Upton or Carlos Beltran, general manager Frank Wren and his staff find themselves debating just how much they should be willing to give up to satisfy their wishes to add a right-handed hitting outfielder and right-handed reliever before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.
Like most buyers on this year’s market, the Braves currently believe sellers are asking too much for their goods. As history has proven, the demands should lessen as the deadline approaches.
In other words, acquiring Beltran, Upton or any of the other players on their wish list would be prove to be more expensive today than it would at some point this weekend.
The Braves have the prospects to make a significant acquisition. They have also made it known they would be reluctant to part ways with any of their top pitching prospects — Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado and quite possibly Mike Minor.
Of course like sellers will alter their mindset as the deadline gets closers, buyers might too get a little antsy. In other words, there is always a chance Braves general manager Frank Wren will opt to include one of these pitchers based on the confidence that he has plenty of other good young pitching in his organization.
With Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens and Brandon Beachy, he already has three members of his Major League rotation who are 25-years-old or younger. Lesser-known prospects like Zeke Spruill and Brett Oberholtzer simply add to the organization’s pitching depth.
Still it will be hard for Wren to include one of his elite pitching prospects in exchange for Beltran, who will exit Atlanta when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season.
At the same time, the acquisition of Beltran would set the stage for him to play right field on an everyday basis and possibly make things uncomfortable for Jason Heyward, who still stands as one of the cornerstones of the club’s future. This move would likely lead the Braves to put Heyward on the bench or in the Minors for a couple weeks.
With this being said, Heyward has shown great maturity while dealing with adversity on a consistent basis this year. The 21-year-old outfielder has dealt with his struggles and negative press in a very professional manner.
But is it worth putting Heyward in this position for just two months of Beltran? Or would it be better for the Braves to find somebody to platoon with Heyward in right field?
These are some scouts (and fans based on your comments) who believe the Braves would be better off acquiring Upton to serve as their starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter. The Braves really never showed interest in having the Astros’ Michael Bourn fill this role.
Upton will not be eligible for free agency until the end of the 2012 season and will likely earn nearly $7 million via arbitration next year. The 26-year-old outfielder possesses tremendous potential and would serve as an upgrade to Jordan Schafer.
While Upton might make sense for the rest of this season, there is reason to wonder if his salary would match the value he could bring next year. Since starring in the 2008 postseason, he has hit .239 with 44 homers, a .318 on-base percentage and .403 slugging percentage.
While Beltran and Upton are the two most significant names linked to the Braves, there is also a chance they will simply add a right-handed bat to enhance their bench or possibly platoon in right field with Heyward.
As they continue to search for a right-handed reliever, the Braves plan to promote Vizcaino to Triple-A Gwinnett
soon Tuesday night. They want to see how the strong-armed 20-year-old hurler reacts to pitching on a regular basis as a reliever. If he passes the tests, there is certainly a chance he could be promoted to the Majors for the season’s final month.
The Braves will also continue to evaluate the possibility of acquiring either Jon Rauch or Jason Frasor from the Blue Jays. With Rauch and Frasor both in position to be Type B free agents, the Blue Jays are currently looking for a significant return in exchange for either of these relievers.