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Braves Offseason Outlook from MLB Trade Rumors


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By Tim Dierkes [October 30, 2009 at 11:35am CST]

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Braves. Their likely commitments for 2010:

C - Brian McCann - $5.5MM

C - Dave Ross - $1.6MM

1B -

2B - Martin Prado - $415K

SS - Yunel Escobar - $425K

3B - Chipper Jones - $13MM

IF - Kelly Johnson - $2.825MM+

IF - Diory Hernandez - $400K

IF/OF - Omar Infante - $2.225MM

LF - Matt Diaz - $1.2375MM+

CF - Nate McLouth - $4.5MM

RF - Ryan Church - $2.8MM+

OF - Jordan Schafer - $400K

SP - Javier Vazquez - $11.5MM

SP - Jair Jurrjens - $450K

SP - Tommy Hanson - $400K

SP - Tim Hudson - $9MM (est.)

SP - Derek Lowe - $15MM

RP - Peter Moylan - $410K+

RP - Kenshin Kawakami - $6.667MM

RP - Kris Medlen - $400K

RP - Eric O'Flaherty - $400K

RP - Boone Logan - $428K+

RP - Manny Acosta - $413K

RP - James Parr - $400K

The Braves have about $81MM committed before arbitration raises to Johnson, Diaz, Church, Moylan, and Logan. Johnson and Logan are potential trade/non-tender candidates. Regardless, the Braves should fall under $90MM (and that includes an estimated $9MM for Hudson). According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Braves began 2009 with a $96.7MM payroll. Ultimately I can see Braves GM Frank Wren having close to $15MM to spend without raising payroll.

First base and left field are two positions Wren must address this winter. The Braves intend to add a right-handed power bat; we ran through options here. At the time, I didn't realize Jason Bay and Matt Holliday might be considerations. The plan for first base might be to re-sign Adam LaRoche, though there are respectable free agent alternatives.

Wren will probably sign a reliever, as closers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez are up for free agency. Both project as Type A free agents; will the Braves offer arbitration? If either player accepts, the Braves can offer any salary they want and have that figure pitted against the submission from the player's agent. Still, Soriano earning $6.1MM this year against $3.45MM for Gonzalez might lead to an arbitration offer only for the latter. The argument against Moylan closing is that lefties handle him well. Pairing him with O'Flaherty in the ninth has potential if the Braves want to save money in the bullpen. And don't forget that Medlen had 53 strikeouts in 49.3 relief innings this year.

So the Braves have needs at first base, left field, and possibly the bullpen. Considering the inflated price of free agent power hitters, how can Wren fill all these holes on a $12-15MM budget? The Braves' pitching surplus could be the answer. Kawakami's contract isn't unreasonable. Lowe's is, given his declining peripherals. Lowe is still useful, though, so the Braves could still trade him and shed 2010 payroll even if they can't find a taker for all $15MM.

My suggestion: retain the starting pitching depth. In all likelihood Kawakami will still be needed for 20+ starts next year. The Braves could instead bump payroll to $100MM, dump Johnson and Logan, go cheap on the bullpen, perhaps backload Hudson's deal, and spend $9-10MM each for the first base and left field spots. Perhaps Johnson could even be used to acquire a decent late-inning reliever.

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My suggestion: retain the starting pitching depth. In all likelihood Kawakami will still be needed for 20+ starts next year. The Braves could instead bump payroll to $100MM, dump Johnson and Logan, go cheap on the bullpen, perhaps backload Hudson's deal, and spend $9-10MM each for the first base and left field spots. Perhaps Johnson could even be used to acquire a decent late-inning reliever.

This is exactly my feeling. There is no such thing as too much pitching. If we still have a "surplus" is July, then we have great bargaining chips at the deadline.

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Well for a couple of reasons. The 1st being KK doesn't have very good control. The 2nd being he doesn't get many strikeouts. Think Bob Wickman from 2007. How'd that work out?

I try to erase Bob Wickman from my memory. That guy must have had a hatred for Hudson that year. He blew almost every game Hudson pitched. Wickman was awful as a closer and he got upset whenever Cox used him in a non-save situation. I absolutely despise him.

Edited by keller24VT
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I try to erase Bob Wickman from my memory. That guy must have had a hatred for Hudson that year. He blew almost every game Hudson pitched. Wickman was awful as a closer and he got upset whenever Cox used him in a non-save situation. I absolutely despise him.

Right. The 2 Hudson games he blew that stand out the most was the one against the Marlins when Huddy had about 12 strikeouts then there was the game in Minnesota when he had Santana beat and Wickman lost it.

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After one season in the majors, give him slack.... He always pitched well enough.

We can only go by what he does here. Pitching here is nowhere near the same as in Japan. The reason's why KK would not be a goot option for closer were already stated. You want a guy who can strike out people, not walk them.

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They can also afford to have 6-10 million dollars players sitting on the bench... we can't.

They pitched their pricy pitchers, then replaced the non-effective ones (Penny, Smoltz) with younger options that didn't add significatly to the payroll. They never had anyone "on the bench", as far as pitching goes.

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well it would not be very economical but Lowe has closer experience. He could move to the closer role and allow the other 5 to handle most of the innings. We are stuck with his salary no matter so we might as well use him as it serves us best. JAT

I wouldnt be adverse to making him the closer if need be... he's getting paid but he seems like you might be better in 1 inning than in 5 innings twice a week

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We can only go by what he does here. Pitching here is nowhere near the same as in Japan. The reason's why KK would not be a goot option for closer were already stated. You want a guy who can strike out people, not walk them.

Yep all I was saying.

does anyone remember when Chipper Jones walked up to the pitching mound to use the mud scraper and scared the beejeesus out of Wickman haha now that was funny

Yep. Wickman turned white as a ghost.

They pitched their pricy pitchers, then replaced the non-effective ones (Penny, Smoltz) with younger options that didn't add significatly to the payroll. They never had anyone "on the bench", as far as pitching goes.

But Smoltz didn't pitched till the end of June. That is what he meant when he said we can't afford to do that.

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Trade Lowe for next to nothing. Get his contract off our backs. With the extra money, go after a bat. I have read that many expensive bats are expected to be released from their teams. To me, this makes the most sense.

I read last week that the Yankees may be willing to take Lowe off our hands. If that's true Wren needs to do it in a heart beat.

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