Would it be better for the Braves to trade Harang or Floyd?
Alex Wood will spend the next couple of weeks preparing to rejoin Atlanta’s starting rotation. How the Braves will create a spot for him remains to be determined. But given a choice it still seems like they would be more willing to trade Aaron Harang than Gavin Floyd.
Wood was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett to make room room for Jordan Walden, who was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. As Wood makes at least a couple starts for Gwinnett, he will attempt to regain the endurance he has lost since he was moved to the bullpen after a May 4 start against the Giants.
Wood will almost certainly be back at the Major League level by the time the Braves play a June 28 doubleheader in Philadelphia. But he could return sooner if one of the current members of Atlanta’s rotation suffers an injury or gets traded.
Late last week, I suggested it would be more prudent to keep Harang, who salary will not exceed $2 million regardless of what transpires over the next 3 1/2 months, and deal Floyd, who is going to get more expensive over the remainder of this summer.
But the financial element does not seem to be influencing the Braves mindset in any way. Once they went over budget to give Ervin Santana his $14.1 million salary in March, they signaled they are all in this year, regardless of the cost.
Thus when determining whether they would rather trade Harang or Floyd, they will base their decision simply on who they believe will be more effective throughout the remainder of this season.
Floyd will receive a $175,000 bonus for each 15 days he has spent on the roster and $250,000 for each 30 and 60 days on the roster. Given that he has he has currently spent 36 days on the roster, he has already added $600,000 to his $4 million base salary.
The Braves also agreed to give Floyd a $250,000 bonus for each start he makes between his 21st and 28th of the season. At his current pace, the veteran pitcher would make his 21st start during the third week of August. While there are many different variables to be accounted for, this would set him up to gain approximately $1.75 million through these start incentives.
So, there’s a chance Floyd will end up costing somewhere closer to $7 million by the time this season concludes. If he maintains something close to the 2.57 ERA he has produced through his first seven starts, this would certainly be a cost the Braves would be willing to pay.
Some might argue that Harang would be an even better bargain if he maintains something close to the 3.33 ERA he has posted through his first 13 starts. But as good as he has been, allowing two earned runs or less in 10 outings, it still feels like we’re still waiting for that clock to strike midnight.
Before going further, the Fielding Independent Pitching, measure what a pitcher’s ERA should be over a given period assuming that the balls in play and timing were league average. Many sabermaticians believe this stat is more effective than ERA to predict future performances.
So if you are among those who buy into this theory, an argument to keep Harang could be supported by the fact he leads the Braves starters with a 2.82 FIP. But it should also be noted that Atlanta’s two best starters also own the rotation’s two worst FIP marks — Julio Teheran (3.63) and Mike Minor (3.75).
Teheran’s FIP is similar to what it was last year (3.68) when he posted a 3.20 ERA. He currently leads the Majors with a 1.89 ERA and the 2.49 ERA he has posted since April 23, 2013 ranks second only to Clayton Kershaw among pitchers who have made at least 35 starts during this span. Minor’s FIP is a little higher than it was last year (3.39) when he produced a 3.21 ERA.
So, before making too much of the FIP stat, remember we’re dealing with a relatively short sample size. Like you would never allow this stat to make you believe Harang is better than Teheran or Minor, it’s probably wise to also do the same in relation to Floyd.
If we take away Harang’s early excellence (0.82 ERA through his first five starts) and his clunker in Miami (9 ER in 4 2/3 innings), he has posted a 3.64 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .288 with a .348 on-base percentage in the seven starts that have followed.
On the way to posting his 2.57 ERA through seven starts, Floyd has allowed opponents to hit .279 with a .333 on-base percentage.
Like most other pitchers during the early stages of a return from Tommy John surgery, Floyd might experience an occasional rough outing like he did against the Mariners last week. But the assumption is that he will get stronger and more consistent as he distances himself from this surgical procedure.
It might not be wise to make any assumptions about Harang, who has taken great joy in his ability to prove most of us wrong over the past couple of months. There is no doubt a pitching-hungry club would be willing to take a chance on him at what now stands as a bargain price.
This will not be an easy decision for the Braves to make as they attempt to create a rotation spot for Wood. But as things currently stand, it seems they are more willing to figuratively and literally place their money on Floyd.