A Waiver Trade Match from Heaven

A Waiver Trade Match from Heaven

A homecoming for 2 former Orioles.

By Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

It was 3-4 days ago that Braves fans received word that Jim Johnson and R.A. Dickey were placed on revocable waivers. While they’re likely not the only players that were placed on revocable waivers, those were the 2 that made it to the mainstream media. My guess, there are at least 3 more guys that the Braves pushed out there but weren’t comfortable in letting the news leak to their fan-base (Matt Kemp, Brandon Phillips, Nick Markakis).

For those not in the know, if a player(s) is claimed on revocable waivers, the 2 teams have 48 hours to work out a deal, and the deal could be as simple as allowing the other team take the full value of the contract(s). If a deal cannot be worked out, then the team that placed said player(s) on revocable waivers pulls the player(s) back and said player(s) have to remain with the team for the rest of the season.

 I’ve been scouring the MLB standings looking for matches in a deal for some of the Braves more expensive veterans. Make no mistake, these are tricky and, for the most part, pipedreams. However, I think I might have stumbled upon a great match. The Orioles, even with a starting pitching ERA that nears 6 and is 29th in all of baseball, remain only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card. The writing’s on the proverbial wall for this team and it may be their last time to contend for the foreseeable future. But nonetheless, they are in the thick of it. While they’re likely not in a position to make big moves as their farm is very weak and they’d need to keep any MLB talent around through this season, they could look for small boosts to aid in their push to Wild Card berth. And it just so happens that the Braves could aid in giving that push.

By Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Both Jim Johnson and Nick Markakis have a long-running history with the Orioles. Jim played with them from 2006-2013, taking on the full-time closer role in 2012 and had 50 and 51 save seasons in ‘12 and ‘13. Nick Markakis was the beloved right-fielder for the O’s from 2006-2014, doing very much the same as he’s done for the Braves with the exception that he was younger and about 10-15% better in all facets of his game. They were both well-liked in the clubhouse and many faces from their time there are still in-house and would welcome them back. There are tricks to this as both guys are under contract for 2018. While Jim still has some perceived value in a reliever’s role, Markakis is pretty much shot and is playing at a replacement level. The positive is that the guys the O’s are running out there in LF are playing at the level of a leper. Yes…it’s been bad. But the Braves aren’t going to get the Orioles to pay the entire contracts of both players without taking a hit themselves…no sirree. To do a deal like this, the Braves will have to take something back, and that’s where we turn to Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jimenez, who once threw a no-hitter against the Braves when he was slinging for the Rockies, has been downright putrid in an Orioles uniform and has posted a 6.31 ERA this year, is owed 13.5MM for the 2017 season, but is a free agent in 2018. I feel like the Orioles would be happy to wash their hands of Ubaldo and welcome back 2 guys that they know and love.

 So, here’s the deal:
 Braves get Ubaldo Jimenez, Chance Sisco

Orioles get R.A. Dickey, Nick Markakis, Jim Johnson, and 3MM

Considering the Braves would be taking 4.25MM of Ubaldo’s salary and the Orioles would be taking on 7.5MM for 2017, the 3MM is there to offset the cost. In return, the Braves get a prospect that has somewhat fallen from grace that can head to AAA and try to recapture the magic that made him one of the game’s best catching prospects. I’ve not talked about Dickey going until the proposed deal, but he makes a lot of sense for them. There are guys in their rotation that are underachieving and throwing a knuckleballer right in the midst could be the boost that’s needed to make them successful.

This is only 1 of many ways that the Braves could look to in dealing veterans, but if they wait too long or til offseason, the chances of making a deal without eating a HUGE chunk of cash becomes less and less. What say you? Would you alter it? Got another idea? Let’s hear from the peanut gallery!

 Go Braves!

3 Comments

I love me a good rosterbation. Always feels good to rub one out after developing an idea and seeing if your brain baby has legs. I'll respond with my thoughts on this particular write up and then make a separate reply about one I had recently.

Interesting idea and a pretty decent one to unload some salary from the 2018 payroll. I even appreciate that there's a little bit in it for the Orioles as well in that they'd be dumping dead weight to bring back familiar names to grasp at the last straws of contention. It's a decent tie-in to keep the O's involved.

As Thomas always told me when doing these types of ideas, imagine yourself in the other GM's shoes and ask yourself if you'd do it also. It keeps you grounded and prevents you from coming up with those–what I like to dub–"video game trades", or trades where you'd only see in old copies of MLB: The Show '01 or something along those lines.

My only issues with this idea are Chance Sisco and the money the Braves would have to send to Baltimore.

First let's discuss Sisco. I'm not sure the Orioles are quite that down on him just yet themselves–that's if they're down on him at all. He's just 22 years old and already at Triple-A. Not quite Acuna-level impressive, but still an achievement as a catcher. Despite a "rough" 2017 season in which he's ONLY managed a .276/.343/.390 line (which is still very usable as a catcher, might I add), Sisco is still just a year removed from a 2016 where he posted a .320/.406/.422 at Double-A. Chance has a lot of time to still figure things out and become a solid major leaguer, or maybe even a stud at the position. Going back to the "would you do it?" concept I learned from Thomas, I probably would not do this if I were Baltimore's GM. It's too steep a price to pay for the responsibility of taking on significant dollars in 2018 as well.

That said…there is a threshold in price that I may be convinced to relinquish Sisco if I were in the Baltimore GM seat. Perhaps if a lot more than half of Markakis's salary for 2018 was paid down, this would become more appealing. Hand Nick to me at a cost of about $3M for 2018 and this becomes interesting to me as Baltimore's make-believe-GM. At that price, it becomes difficult to find that type of replacement-level production in the free agent market. Maybe toss in a couple extra million once we've decided on a figure so I can buyout JJ Hardy's contract without adding to my 2018 payroll number and this becomes easier a pill to swallow in the hot seat in Baltimore. Then the question becomes….as Coppolella and the Braves front office, do you do the deal if the Orioles asked for more money–approximately $10M 2018 money on top of the $3M in 2017–to make this deal happen? As a fanboy of Sisco, I'd still do it…but if cash flow is your main concern, it's something to think about.

In summary, the reasoning behind my reply and rebuttal is that, as you point out, the Orioles are barely clinging to contention. Their "meh" trade to acquire Hellickson reflects that. I'm not sure they'd sacrifice Sisco just to continue to "meh" their way along through the rest of 2017 with an outside shot at becoming the 2nd wild card team. I certainly wouldn't if I were them. Not even considering taking on a big chunk of payroll for 2018 for the said "meh" additions which could probably be better utilized acquiring other less "meh" talent in the free agent or trade markets next winter. Give the Orioles a little more incentive by making Markakis and the lot cheaper for 2018 and we may have a discussion. But again…that's with me as the make-believe-GM in Baltimore. Your mileage with this idea may vary with a Baltimore fan in the make-believe hot seat…or with Dan Duquette himself at the helm–who, if he isn't down on Sisco, this discussion was a no-go from the get-go.

With the reply to the topic out of the way, here's the scenario I mentioned in my first post. With the character-limit I will attempt to be brief and make this the Cliff's Notes version while still covering as many bases as possible.

Astros get Justin Verlander and a load of cash from Atlanta.

Tigers get Matt Kemp, the $3.5M/year Dodgers send to the Braves through their original agreement with San Diego to help pay down Kemp, SP Franklin Perez (or David Paulino if he manages to clear revocable waivers), & a low-level, high upside projectable arm from the Astros system like SP Cionel Perez or maybe a better fit is SP Cristian Javier or SP Hector Perez.

Braves get OF Jon Kemmer & RP Brendan McCurry.

The Astros take in this is pretty straight forward. They pay a dear price to get a much-needed "ace"–at least in name–at a heavily discounted price to what is owed in his contract.

The Tigers perspective is to rid of a good sum of money in 2017 dropping from Verlander's salary to Kemp's and approximately $10M/year thereafter in exchange for one of Houston's very best arms, a DH-destined Kemp to replace Victor Martinez and a high-octane starting pitcher flier to dream on. Just about a dream return for Verlander at this point.

The Braves take on a huge financial commitment, as they've done in the past, but manage to buy two major league ready prospects who can contribute immediately and/or get flipped in the winter for bigger pieces. They utilize the nearly $7M saved by trading Rodriguez and Garcia from recent deals and spend it basically taking on Verlander's salary for 2017. Additionally, they take on $7M/year in the next two seasons to "buy" the prospects from the Astros and to rid of Kemp, a portion of his salary and open up left field for Kemmer, Acuna or another prospect.

Combine this with a revised idea to dump Markakis on the Orioles at half the cost and not focus so much on the prospect return, but the financial gains, and you'll have a good chunk of money to pursue a big time starting pitcher this winter like Yu Darvish…or to continue to fortify your lineup with an addition like Mike Moustakas.

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