Let’s Make a Move

Let’s Make a Move

The 2018 Atlanta Braves are good. That’s just the reality right now. Whether it continues that way or not is a separate discussion. You can make the argument either way, but what’s undisputed is they’re 17-11 and half a game back. What’s also undisputed is this is clearly the most talented team the Braves have fielded in the last 4 years. It makes sense that they’re good.

But as we all know, good isn’t perfect and there are spots on the roster Atlanta needs to upgrade. The rotation could probably use a front-line guy if they’re serious about making noise in 2018, but it’s fair to say they’re probably going to see if that guy exist somewhere internally first. Mike Soroka certainly looked the part last night with his 95 mph disappearing fastball. And with Kyle Wright, Luiz Gohara, and Kolby Allard not far away, there’s other options to consider. So that’s a wait and see move.

Third-base could use an upgrade simply based on talent. From a production stand point, you can’t really beat what Ryan Flaherty and Johan Camargo have done this year, but it’s probably wise to expect regression there. Especially with Flaherty. And the teams seems more comfortable labeling Camargo a super-utility guy at the moment. But like with the rotation, Atlanta has some internal options they’ll likely try first. Jose Bautista is most likely going to get a shot at some point and he’ll be given every opportunity to play. I don’t think he’ll be very good but it’s basically a risk free move. There’s also Austin Riley who’s currently tearing up AA, and while I don’t think they’ll be too aggressive with him, a 2018 debut is possible. So, again, that upgrade will be a wait-and-see situation as well.

But there’s one spot on the roster that doesn’t need a waiting period. The bullpen. While the back end of the bullpen certainly has the talent and production to be solid, the middle relief has basically been a rotation of meh players since opening day. Rex Brothers, Luke Jackson, Jose Ramirez, Miguel Socolovich, Peter Moylan, Josh Ravin, Lucas Sims, Max Fried, Chase Whitley, and on and on. And while some of those players mentioned have future upside, their current production isn’t ideal for a team trying to win. Arodys Vizcaino, A.J. Minter, Dan Winkler, Jesse Biddle, and Shane Carle is a solid five to build from, assuming Carle isn’t seriously injured of course. And even though Sam Freeman has seen some expected regression from last year, he’s probably earned a little more time on roster.

So the spot I’m looking to upgrade is Peter Moylan’s. I know Peter currently has 2.89 ERA but I think every one knows how deceiving that is. His outings have done more damage to other guys’ era more than his own, and eventually his numbers will reflect it. He’s given up a .441 OBA to to RH this year, the guys he’s suppose to be getting out, and walking almost 15% of batters faced (almost 7 per 9 innings). You can’t run those type of numbers and expect any type of sustained success. In fact, these type of numbers usually lead to losing your roster spot and that sparkling 2.89 ERA should be looked at as a time bomb.

So with that, let’s find an upgrade. Normally, it’s hard to make trades this time of year. Teams like to wait to see what they are. But, luckily for Atlanta, the bad teams have been really bad this year. Even though it’s only May 2nd, it’s not hard to identify the 2018 sellers. Or maybe more importantly, it’s not hard for them to identify themselves. The Reds, Padres, Marlins, Rays, Orioles, Royals, White Sox, and Rangers are all pretty much out of the race at this point. And rebuilding teams are usually open to getting a future piece for a reliever.

The big names are easy to identify. Kelvin Herrera for Kansas City and Brad Hand from San Diego have seemingly been on the trade block for years and if Atlanta wanted to go big, they certainly could. The next tier of names maybe a little less known, but have been just as effective. Nate Jones, Amir Garrett, Jose Alvarado, Dylan Florio and a host of others would be significant upgrades to what they have.

Nate Jones from the White Sox is the name that jumped out to me. He’s a veteran guy, 32, with a consistent track record of success. With so many in-experienced guys having major roles down there for Atlanta, someone with a little seasoning is ideal. He’s right-handed, which I thinks fits this team better at the moment with all the lefties they have. Of course, Peter Moylan fits these parameters too. The difference is Nate Jones is all those things, plus he’s actually a good pitcher.

Another variable is he is a 32-year-old on a rebuilding team. It just feels like he’d be more available then some of the other guys. Of course with Atlanta, money is always a factor and Jones’ contract is more than reasonable. He’s making $4M this year and his contract has team options the next two years for a total of $10M. I think even Atlanta can afford that. Jones is also not a platoon guy. LH have a .278 OBA against him this year. RH have a .251 OBA. He just gets outs.

As for the return, it’s hard to say what Chicago would want. They’ve focused on bats for a lot of their rebuild but at some point you need pitching too. With 3 years of team control, a relatively cheap contract, a solid track record, and the premium you pay for in-season trades, it won’t be for nothing. It’d be a real prospect going back. But Atlanta has the ammo. They have guys like Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, Kyle Muller, Dustin Peterson, and a bunch more who all have prospect value in trades, but not necessarily clear roles in Atlanta’s future. There’s enough sellers out there where you certainly don’t need to overpay for anyone. But you can use all that farm depth to improve your club. We all knew these types of moves would happen eventually.

And it doesn’t have to been this specific move. Plenty of good relievers out there. But let’s make the move. It’s a clear area that could use improving so let’s improve it.

Atlanta hasn’t bought a piece for contention in a long time. And besides the quantifiable gains from adding a solid piece to your roster, it also sends a message. To the fans and to the players. Like the Yankees last year, the Braves appear a year ahead of schedule. And upgrading an obvious hole in the roster with some reinforcements immediately boost morale. Later in the summer, there may be opportunities for other moves but there’s no need to wait for this one. Let’s go get a reliever now.

15 Comments

Not Nate Jones. Too much risk of injury. Cannot possibly give up any reasonable asset for him. He’s already pitched more innings this year than last and he’s had arm problems before that. Just look at his contract – loaded up with options that are worth more if he doesn’t have surgery in any particular year. Not to mention he has 6 walks in 12 innings – not inspiring.

For this year we need a fairly low cost rental deal but a bog one that fills holes nonetheless. Here’s what I would propose:

Braves get Moustakas and Herrera and $1M
Royals get Markakis, Wisler or Sims, Weigel, 1-3 prospects in Braves MLB top 30 chosen from 20-30

That fills holes at 3B and RP and the Royals have a dearth of decent OF right now. The Royals also get replacement production for Moustakas in Markakis and a really good prospect in Weigel and some filler now (Wisler or Sims) and some longshots for the future (e.g. Izzy, Derian, Tarnok, something like that). I researched deadline rental deals and any deal for less than a future potential HOF’er generally requires 2 prospects in the 20-30 range and they rarely pan out. All of the assets I identified are expendable and not required for the future of the club in any way. Don’t focus on whether the Royals “need” Markakis, his role is to even out the money. Neither team will want to expend salary dollars in any deal. This deal is salary neutral and 40-man roster spot neutral.

Roger….dude, if The Royals were to make a trade with The Braves that involved trading Moustakis to The Braves…The Royals WILL NOT be taking back Nick Markakis as part of any trade!

I am SO CONFIDENT about that….if I’m wrong, I will CEASE posting on here…FOREVER! Ok dude! That’s how CONFIDENT I am that your ‘hypothetical post’ WILL NEVER HAPPEN!

I stated this BEFORE Markakis got hot. As of now, The Braves have NO INTEREST in trading Markakis, given his production. Regardless, the only motivation for The Royals to trade a player of Moustakis’ caliber..is to 1. get back young/potentially high ceiling prospects…2. reduce payroll. They ARE NOT going to take back ANY PAYROLL!

Besides, The Yankees and possibly Washington (if Rondon continues to battle the injury bug) will easily overbid for Moustakis. Boston as well (they can move some players to other positions to create a spot for Moustakis).

I’d rather see The Braves look for improvements FROM WITHIN….unless AA can swing some ‘steal of a deal’ type trade that leaves our best prospects UNTOUCHED!

Once AA ‘makes his mark’ on The Braves via The 2018 Free Agent Offseason….The 2019 Braves will be the beginning of The Braves Dynasty!

The back end of the bullpen is definitely the place to target, and Nate Jones is an interesting target, but what I really want is a trade with the Os. You never really know what the Orioles will do, but it’s clear that they’re not going go to contend this year and should be tearing it down. They have a bunch of interesting arms that might be worth the risk while being relatively cheap to obtain.

Richard Bleier: lefty without clear splits and some sparkling ERAs despite horrific K rates. Pre-arb.
Brad Brach: righty with a decent track record. His horrific ERA this season mostly seems to be BABIP/strand rate, though he’s also been walking too many guys. Free agent at the end of the year.
Darren O’Day: righty, somewhat pricey ($9MM this year and next), has generally been solid when he hasn’t given up too many home runs (and leaving Camden/the AL East should help that).
Mychal Givens. righty, lots of strikeouts, probably too good to be had cheaply. Pre-arb.

The reason I like the idea of trading with the Orioles is that they have lots of interesting relief arms and don’t seem to be going anywhere, so there’s the possibility of making some pretty big changes to the bullpen at once. If somehow the Braves could take on some more money this year, they could probably get someone like Brach in exchange for taking on O’Day’s contract and some high-variance guys like Ynoa or Tarnok. If they want to be more ambitious, getting a guy like Givens would make the bullpen better in the short and long term.

BJUFC, I agree, the Orioles would make for a great trade partner. They have a ton of pieces out there in their pen that could help the Braves. Tops on my wish list would be Zach Britton, though. I know the guy’s hurt, and it’d be a gamble. He’s not going to see game action until June, so the Braves would have to buy based on past track record. He’d also be a rental. The beauty of the deal would be those are all drawbacks that other teams will see too, so the price might be pennies on the dollar. If the Braves offered up Matt Wisler and Dustin Peterson, neither of whom are likely bound for Atlanta with Pache and all of the pitching on the way- would the O’s see a better offer?

I really, really like Mychal Givens, too. With all of the value teams place on bullpen pieces now though, I can’t imagine what the price will/would be on a pre-arb strikeout guy such as that. Way too much, most likely.

I think Brad Brach would be a solid add, too. He’s an impending FA, so once again, the price should be right. Plus, as you mentioned, he’s having an abysmal year- which is probably in part do to a bit of bad luck. If the Braves could add Brach and Britton, the potential is there for a lights out bullpen.

I’d offer up ONE of Kyle Muller, Joey Wentz or Touki Toussaint; to pair along with Dustin Peterson and Matt Wisler for both Britton and Brach. From the O’s side, they’d be getting one organizational prospect from Atlanta that sits at, or just outside their top 10. That’d probably instantly place top 3 in the Baltimore system. And Peterson and Wisler really don’t look to have a future in Atlanta, especially if Atlanta goes for a Harper to play the OF; however, they could play roles on a rebuilding O’s team.

One big question: Would you trade anyone of consequence to try and rent Machado for a few months in an effort to sell him on Atlanta? I wouldn’t, because I don’t think he’ll sign anywhere but the NYY. However, if Baltimore really liked Aaron Blair… Lol

I am an O’s fan as well as a Braves fan and the O’s will not make good trade partners. They will not trade without being “blown away” for any of their assets. Their FO believes they are competitive and even if they lose Machado, they will plan to reload rather than rebuild. While the definition of “blown away” might be variable depending upon the asset, my guess is the Braves would not be willing to pay the price. If you do not see Machado or Dylan Bundy traded first then it’s not worth even asking about anyone else. Maybe Britton, but it would take more value than the risk to get him. Further, one thing I do agree on with Paul is that the Braves should not be trading from their top 20 prospects for any rentals. I would only make an exception for Weigel since he’s recovering from TJS. The O’s do not need any OFs; they have plenty of good prospects in the minors. They need left side IF (SS/3B) and pitching and more pitching. They might bite on Allard or Wilson, but I’m not sure anything less would be of interest.

You’re probably right, Roger- that Baltimore front office is notoriously perplexing. Although I tend to feel like whomever makes the decision in Baltimore to buy or sell this season is delusional if they they feel they can compete. That hole’s just too deep.

If I remember correctly, they didn’t get a ton of interest on Britton last year outside of the Astros though. And the Astros were rumored to have only offered up some prospects with questionable medicals. So I’d think for a team that doesn’t really need a closer, something’s better nothing, regardless of if it fits a need or not. I wouldn’t want to see the Braves deal anything for Britton that already clearly doesn’t fit in the long-term plan though. So I don’t disagree with you or Paul there.

I feel a little differently on Brach, because he’s a guy I wouldn’t mind seeing wearing a Tomahawk for awhile. He’s been consistently good for a few years. Contract-wise, I think he’d make for an affordable veteran presence out there too, if the Braves wanted to explore extending him. I wouldn’t care if the Braves dealt one of the three guys I mentioned; because I think Touki ends up a RP, and Wentz and Muller are most likely back end SP types in the future. It seems baseball is entering an era where it’s cheaper to buy a back end SP than a decent RP. Doubt the Braves need SP anytime soon anyway, though.

I’m not saying go crazy and sell the farm. There’s no way I wouldn’t deal one 10-20ish type org prospect though for a puncher’s chance at a WS, assuming the Braves are still sitting 1st or 2nd in June.

I don’t like the idea of trading for Britton for two reasons:
1. As you’ve noted, the Orioles front office is hard to please. There’s a lot of uncertainty around how good Britton will be coming off injury and the Orioles are going to want a haul commensurate with the best possible version of him.
2. If a rental can be had cheaply (like Brach might be), that’s a fine move, otherwise I don’t see an advantage in giving up long-term assets while the Braves are still entering contention. If this lineup is legitimate, and Newcomb and Soroka continue to look promising, they should be contenders for years to come. This is why I’d rather use slightly better prospects, or take on money, to get someone with a little more control.

It should be noted that instead of making a move for a reliever, the Braves could also just start converting fringe-command guys like Fried or Toussaint into relievers. Certainly, it would probably make more sense to try Toussaint in relief than to flip him for a reliever.

As to the Orioles not wanting to trade at all, that’s fine. These are moves I’d like to see happen, not ones that I know are possible.

King…NO WAY would I offer Wentz, Tooki or Muller for any bullpen arms (especially arms that are NON-ELITE).

I understand the reluctance of teams to trade their best bullpen arms UNLESS they get prospects in return.

I feel that if we need some bullpen arms come the summer….we can get them FROM WITHIN. While Kyle Wright will be one of our long term starters….I would like to see him used in a high leverage/multi-inning bullpen situation (if a spot doesnt open for him in The Braves Rotation this year). Wright would be an improvement over Peter Moylan.

Also, Corbin Clouse and Devan Watts are two Double A arms who could get called up later this summer.

I did not endure 3 years of The Rebuild (2015, 2016 and 2017)….just to see a number of our best prospects GIVEN AWAY for some BS relievers that may/may not make an impact for The Braves in 2018.

Even if those moves do make an impact….the question is this? Do you really want to see Teheran and McCarthy making meaningful playoff starts? Can The Braves advance deep in The Playoffs…with Teheran and McCarthy among the starting pitchers we trot out there?

For 2018 to be a successful year (regardless of whether we make The Playoffs or not)…..It is IMPORTANT that Soroka, Allard, Wright and Gohara all make a number of starts in Atlanta during this season! We need those guys to get their ‘cups of coffee’ starts in 2018…so we can know what we have going into The 2019 Season!

I’m not saying that we should ‘tank’ in 2018. I’m saying that we should let things play out…with what we have. I feel that come The July Trade Deadline….BOTH McCarthy and Teheran could both be on their way out of town!

Imagine a rotation come post July Trade Deadline:

1. Folty
2. Newcomb
3. Soroka
4. Gohara
5. Allard/Wright (with Max Fried and Annibal Sanchez as alternatives should someone get hurt).

While Gohara hasnt exactly pitched well so far in 2018…people have to remember he was hurt in Spring Training…that right now he’s basically ‘in Spring Training’ mode. Let’s see how he does in his next 4-5 starts. I feel that by the end of May, Gohara will be fine!

Kolby Allard is off to a strong 2018 start. If he continues dealing on the mound by The ASB…..he’ll be a candidate for a rotation spot in Atlanta.

A rotation for the last 2 months of 2018 of Folty, Newcomb, Soroka, Gohara and Allard…..would be YOUNG, EXCITING and high ceiling capability! That..is a rotation that can grow and potentially be a playoff caliber rotation (whether in 2018, 2019 and beyond)!

Paul, I’ll admit, that August rotation looks pretty good. That’s a rotation that’ll be formidable for years to come. I noticed it didn’t include any of Touki, Muller or Wentz, though? You mentioned using Max Fried and Anibal Sanchez in the bullpen; which, I mean, hey, cool… I didn’t see Touki Muller or Wentz out there, though? And with that excellent rotation you laid out, it doesn’t look as if Tehran or McCarthy will be getting any playoff starts.

So you wouldn’t give up one pitching prospect to give these guys a shot at a World Series? One? I mean we’re not talking dealing four high ceiling prospects for an Andrew Miller. How do you suppose Harper, Machado or Kimbrel will view a front office who doesn’t make any moves when they’re mulling their FA decisions? I mean I understand using some caution and restraint in making deals, but you’ve got to take some shots too.

Teheran’s a solid SP on the road. It seems it’s just something about STP that makes it so he has trouble pitching there. I wouldn’t mind seeing Julio getting some road playoff starts at all, though. I was just paraphrasing Paul’s argument to support mine. Lol.

Honestly I’m a bit surprised Atlanta isn’t approached about his availability more. He might thrive somewhere like Seattle or San Diego. Or maybe there are more inquiries than are made known.

Good game today though!

Tough game for The Braves tonight! deGroom is a tough pitcher…hopefully our hitters will give him some tough at-bats/get his pitch count up (getting him out by the 6th inning would be ideal…getting into that Mets bullpen).

However, which Newcomb shows up tonight will decide how competitive The Braves are tonight! Hopefully Newcomb paid attention to how Soroka went after hitters once he got 0-2/1-2 counts on them (in other words, DO NOT DICK AROUND with ‘waste pitches’). Go after them and get them out! Newcomb as a GOOD ARM! I’m ok with giving up a solo homer or two. Just DO NOT walk people!

1st place awaits the winner of tonight’s game!

Another BIG WIN by The Braves tonight! The injury by deGroom, played A HUGE ROLE in tonight’s win! He was dominating our hitters….bad break by The Mets tonight!

Meanwhile ‘the good Newcomb’ showed up tonight! 7 innings, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts…97 pitches! Who would have guessed that Albies and Acuna would go a combined 0 for 10….that we wouldnt score a run until the 6th inning….and we’d still win 7-0?

Freeman, Markakis, Carmago, Flaherty and Inciarte all came through with BIG HITS! Better yet, because of the offense AND Newcomb going 7 innings….only Freeman and Moylan were used from the bullpen!

Meanwhile, The Braves are in FIRST FREAKING PLACE, with a record of 18-11! Wow! The sick thing is….this team is not done improving! While Gohara got hit hard in his AAA start today…he had flashes of battling through! He’ll probably need at least 5 more starts before he’s ready for a possible promotion to Atlanta. Still, it’s nice that as of now, we dont really need Gohara right now!

I’m hoping that Soroka gets to start Sunday against The Giants. If Sanchez is ready to come back, I’d LOVE to see him settle into the long relief/multi-inning option. Of course if someone gets hurt, he’s available to start.

Hopefully the days of being forced to start the likes of Wisler, Sims and Blair ARE OVER! It’s HELLA NICE to ‘be disappointed’ when your starter ‘only’ goes 6 innings! I would LOVE to see THROWING STRIKES/GOING AFTER HITTERS once you get 0-2/1-2 on them to be a regular thing!

Finally, The Braves have a chance to leave town with A SWEEP! Jason Vargas is not Synderguard NOR deGroom! With Vizcaino, Minter and Winkler all having a day of rest today…..as well as Teheran having an extra day of rest…hopefully our pitching will be ON tomorrow! A win tomorrow would give us a 1/2 game lead when The Braves go home to host a 3 game series against The Giants (who have been RAVISHED by injuries). I can only imagine how ROCKING Sun Trust Field would be…especially with it being the first time they get to see Ronald Acuna play in a Braves uniform!

Another BIG WIN for The Braves today! Swept The Mets 11-0…..Teheran pitched 7 innings (Biddle and Fried pitched the last 2 innings…giving our best relievers ANOTHER DAY OF REST).

I hope that the throwing strikes/going after hitters becomes CONTAGIOUS among our starting pitchers! If Teheran can continue the way he’s been pitching since his rough 1st couple of starts….he’s going to make it tough to trade him down the line!

This offense is absolutely CLICKING (the new lineup with Inciarte hitting 9th is UNDEFEATED 4-0 so far!).

Next up…The SF Giants. Their pitching staff has been DEVISTATED by injuries. We’re not facing Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija or Moore this weekend! Hopefully The Braves wont let off the pedal this weekend. With the crowd expected to welcome home Ronald Acuna…..I dont see that happening!

The Phillies and Nationals are battling this weekend..while The Mets host Colorado. Hopefully we can put start adding some games to the 1 1/2 game lead we current hold!

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