Where Do We Go From Here? 2013, Free Agency and Trades, Part 3 (by Ryan C)

Editor’s note: this is the third of Ryan C’s three posts on improving the Braves via free agency and trades. The first is here and the second is here.

In order for the Braves to pursue a second baseman, Uggla would have to be traded, jettisoned, fired into space, or otherwise liberated from the roster. The rest of this post is under the assumption that the team will do this, and will be on the market either for a starting player or for a useful platoon infielder who could team up for at-bats with players already in the organization, like Tommy La Stella. This player would have to be an upgrade from in-house options — i.e., he’d have to be better than at least one member of the 25-man roster — but cheap enough not to get in the way of extensions and/or arb-eligible stars.

Potential Trading Partners for an Infielder

  1. Los Angeles Angels: The Angels have a lot of needs, and they might not mind moving Howie Kendrick, who has a limited no-trade clause. They’re also loaded, so they are one of the teams that might be able to take on a good portion of Uggla’s salary, in the right move. The Braves have matched up with the Angels in the past and might look to do it again this winter.
  2. Cincinnati Reds: We all know the benefits of adding a player like Brandon Phillips and subtracting a player like Uggla, but adding Phillips’ contract would greatly diminish the chances of extending our young hitters.
  3. Baltimore Orioles: The O’s need pitching and will probably be looking for a second baseman. Hopefully, in Uggla’s case, they wouldn’t mind a “second baseman.”
  4. Cleveland Indians: The Indians look to be losing a few impact starters and are evidently shopping Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis. (I’m not sure their heart is actually in it with Kipnis. Why would it be?) Cabrera is interesting as he’d provide a stopgap for La Stella; his bad glove at short might be slightly less bad at second, and he can hit for a middle infielder. Kipnis, it should go without saying, would cost more than we can afford.
  5. Minnesota Twins: The Twins are basically punting their major league team until their stacked minor league system graduates its top prospects. Second baseman Brian Dozier isn’t as good as his 2013 campaign — he came out of nowhere as a 26-year old to have a three-win season — but I’m sure they could be convinced to sell high for the right price. They wouldn’t be willing to pay much of Uggla’s salary, but if the Braves send Uggla plus money plus a prospect, there might be a deal.
  6. Milwaukee Brewers: This could have all the makings of a classic bad contract swap. Rickie Weeks, after a terrible 2013, has one year left on his contract then a vesting option. With more money being owed to Uggla, the Braves would have to sweeten a deal to acquire Weeks. This seems more like a lateral move than anything else.
  7. Los Angeles Dodgers: Dee Gordon has surely worn out his welcome in the Dodger organization, but he has the speed to be a passable utility infielder, and the Dodgers have never shied away from taking a flier on a bad contract. This kind of trade wouldn’t improve the Braves roster much, but it could be a useful salary dump.
  8. San Diego Padres: Logan Forsythe could be a buy-low candidate. He was putrid in ’13, but has good Minor League numbers and a very good walk rate, and his well-below average BABIP in 2013 suggests he could rebound in 2014. He could probably use a change of scenery.

Free Agent Targets for 2nd Base

  1. Omar Infante: The best 2b candidate on the Free Agent market to meet the Braves’ needs, Infante is a steady 2-3 WAR player that has the flexibility to play any position but catcher. Omar sported a .795 OPS in 2013, due to a spike in power and a BABIP about .020 points higher than his career BABIP. Not easy to walk, but neither is he easy to strikeout. This would make a good fit for a high walk/high strikeout offense. He was used primarily as a 2nd baseman for Detroit and played slightly above average defense at the position. Because of his defensive flexibility, signing Omar could also give the Braves a chance to break La Stella in slowly with starts against RHP, moving Omar around the infield to give rest to the other starters.
  2. Kelly Johnson: We all know what Johnson can provide; patience, power, and strings of 100 plus plate appearances where he might as well be wearing a blindfold in the batter’s box. Kelly was very good for the Diamondbacks in 2009 and has been very mediocre since. He’s likely to be a positive WAR player in ’14, so he has a leg up on Uggla, but not anything of real impact.
  3. Brian Roberts: The Orioles love them some Brian Roberts. Nothing else can explain the fact that, even after barely tallying a full year’s worth of ABs over the course of the last four seasons, the Orioles still have interest in re-signing him. Of course, from ’05-’09, you be hard-pressed to find a better second sacker than Roberts, who averaged 4.6 WAR/season. But he has barely played a lick since then. He’d likely be less-expensive than the first two, but at this point in his career, he’s more of a glue guy than a baseball player.
  4. Rafael Furcal: Pitchers aren’t the only ones that are receiving new elbow ligaments these days! After leaving Atlanta, Furcal was a 3 WAR/year player for the Dodgers, then moved on to the Cardinals where he was mediocre. He spent last year recovering from Tommy John and should be well-rested. In a SS-depleted FA market, Furcal could draw some interest. But injury issues aside, considering the drama he caused a few years back by committing to the Braves then backing out (see: “Furcal Rule“), it’ll be a cold day in Kuwait before the Braves try to re-sign him.

In my opinion, the only candidate that makes a lick of sense is Omar.

Then again, have you noticed how much flack Robinson Cano has been taking for signing with Jay-Z and allegedly accepting improper gifts from him, while other teams have gone out of their way to indicate that they think his asking price is too high? There’s still just about no way that his price falls below $200 million, which is probably about $126 million more than the Braves ever want to pay for a free agent.

But if his price falls to $74 million… go get him, Wren!

58 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? 2013, Free Agency and Trades, Part 3 (by Ryan C)”

  1. The Angels’ top prospect, Taylor Lindsey, is a second baseman. He just had a strong season in AA. They also have Grant Green. I don’t think they are likely to be interested in Uggla.

    I would have put the Mariners and Rockies on the list of teams with possible interest. Neither got much production from second last season. The Mariners would like to add some right-handed power and have had trouble attracting free agents. A buy low trade of this kind makes sense for a team in their position.

  2. The 8 teams listed were 8 teams that had a desirable 2nd baseman at a low cost or a bad contract swap 2nd baseman. In my original post, I had Jonathan Schoop as the candidate the Braves could look at on the Orioles, but it must not have made the edit. There are many trading options out there but in this post it was more of a 2nd baseman for a 2nd baseman scenario, reasoning I didn’t include Rockies, Mariners, and others.

  3. @1, The Angels may not be interested in Uggla, but they may be interested in trading from the depth you listed in order to fill another of their numerous holes.

    I feel like, as people have been saying, we can find a taker for a 2B who hit 20 HR in his worst ever year if we swallow most of the contract, especially given how much FAs are costing this offseason. The actual issue is finding an upgrade for 2B.

  4. I think we have our 2B upgrade in house.

    If you platoon Pastornicky and LaStella you have a high 700’s ops pairing with so so and maybe less than so so defense, respectively. That is as good as Uggla could possibly be at this point, costs about 1 mill, total, at least 150,000 of which you have to pay anyway (option Pastornciky to minors and I think he is protected at that level). I am guessing that would be around 2 WAR.

    To get more than 2 WAR either (a) you have to get lucky on a contract or trade and somebody over performs reasonable expectations) or (b) you have to play in a bigger league (as in Cano or some better trade candidates).

  5. @27 in the last thread

    Hodor is actually not his name, it’s just a word he says all the time so everyone just called him Hodor. I feel like this is extremely important information to correct.

  6. Just read the payment is financed over 30 years. Won’t the stadium need renovations before that?

    Sorry for being off-topic. I love the idea of a contract and cash swap for an underperforming veteran SP. Don’t want to lose any prospects.

  7. @4, Gotcha. I tend to think moving Uggla and acquiring a second baseman will be two separate transactions. The first is more important than the second. I’m fine with the in house options (Pena, Pastornicky, La Stella).

  8. I would add Houston to the list. They could use Uggla as a DH wih that short left field fence. He might improve there if his only focus is to work on his hitting. If we sent him and $13 mil for a no name prospect reliever it could work. Houston gets a DH for 2/$13 and doesn’t give up anything. Doesn’t hurt them if it doesn’t work out. If he improves then they have a trade piece.

  9. OK, I don’t watch GoT, so I was unaware of this Hodor character. But I still stand by my Ramble On reference.

    So there. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

    :) – for the Internet Sarcasm Impaired.

  10. Happy Thanksgiving.

    I’ll be playing football tomorrow morning on frozen tundra. Because tradition. (I can’t think of any other reason to play in this cold.)

  11. Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope the Turkey Fairy brings us a shutdown Ace and a Second Sacker under the Stuffing Tree this year!

  12. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Three things I’m thankful for:

    (a) The continuation of this community.
    (b) A Yale NCAA Hockey Championship
    (c) 1995. I’m never going to not be thankful for that.

  13. Happy day after Thanksgiving everybody! Anyone else at work today? This place is dead. I’ve counted 4 people in on my whole floor.

  14. I work in customer service for a number of large prepaid debit card providers.

    Yesterday was nice and peaceful. Today is a nightmarish hellscape as everyone is trying to shop with their cards and calling in for help/tell me what an idiot I am because they can’t figure out how to use their cards.

    Happy holidays!

  15. One must truly have a passion for customer service to enjoy a job that is intensified during the holiday season.

  16. @37, whatever puts Auburn in Pasadena on 6 Jan suits me fine. I would not at all be surprised to see MSU take down OSU, though and an FSU-(AU/Mizzou) BCS game as a result. It’s even possible, perhaps probable, that if OSU struggles regardless of outcome next week they could find themselves #3.

  17. My teams can’t buy a break at the moment and yet yours just won back-to-back games on absolute freaking miracles. You, sir, are what’s wrong with the world today!

  18. It’s crazy how a court case could potential ruin the college football season. A Winston-less FSU could be a rout for the opposing team in the BCSNC that could result in the wrong teams being in the NC for the second year in a row. You could make the case at that point that the SECCG was the NC two years in a row.

  19. @42, you’re not suggesting that the college football season is somehow more important than a potential court case, are you?

    Frankly, this is the best way for the BCS to go out, blown up and broken and remembered for the mistake it was.

  20. @43 Certainly not. However, the ancillary result of this case could have far reaching implications for more than the victim, her family and friends, and Jameis Winston.

    It does, however, make me sick when the voices on ESPN Radio suggest the Leon County DA should hurry up “out of respect for the victim.” Oh, shut up! You just want there to be drama in the sports world. You want to know if Jameis Winston is putting on the helmet in January. You don’t give a rip about the victim.

    What do you do if you’re a voter? Does a Winston-less FSU fall two spots in the polls? Does a coach vote Auburn #2 and FSU #3 because the future looks bleak for FSU?

  21. Better question would be, what’s happens when OSU losses to Mich St and Winston gets charged. Bama could possibly find their way back in a title game against the SEC winner.

    I don’t think Winston gets charged, but I do think OSU gets routed by Mich St

  22. @44 OK agree, sorry if my post implied otherwise.

    With Winston or not, an undefeated FSU team has to be in the final based on their season of work.

    All I know for sure is that the playoff cannot come soon enough.

  23. Chipper talking some smack to Huddy on twitter. Chipper, I like him, but he’s pretty douchey.

  24. Self-Abuse Alert: Game 7, 1991 WS Game on MLB TV, with commentary from Smoltz & Morris.

    I can honestly say that I’ve never been more nervous watching any game in any sport.

  25. #46 – I understand that argument for FSU. However, an undefeated FSU team playing their third string QB instead of the best player in college football are two different teams. Don’t be surprised if they get left out if Winston is charged.

    Key thing will be Jimbo’s decision if he is charged. He may use the exemption clause and keep him on the field. I really just don’t want to see FSU destroying OSU in the championship game. It will get ugly.

  26. @49: How would that work exactly? The computer polls have no idea who is playing anyway. What voter is going to reduce their assessment of a team based on the replacement of one player by another they have never seen play?

  27. Re: FSU. All y’all are ignoring the fact that they are going to get stomped by the juggernaut that is DUKE FOOTBALL in the ACC Championship game.

    Don’t worry, I’ll show myself out before the laughter and scorn.

  28. 1. I believe Auburn has been more lucky than good to avoid a 9-3 record. The wins over UGA and Bama are more acts of god (and stupid coaching decisions) than anything else.

    2. Nonetheless, I will assume any team from a real football conference will beat OSU by some 30+ points until OSU proves they have any business in the big leagues.

  29. @52
    There’s no denying that and if you were to have told an Auburn fan that the team would go 9-3 at the beginning of the year, most would have been very happy with that outcome.

  30. @52 want to talk about luck, FSU leads the nation by recovering 71.4% of all fumbles.

    Calling Auburn lucky because of the outcome of 2 plays is rather disingenuous to all of the other plays in those games that allowed them to be within one score of winning both of those games.

    Also, I would take issue with the FG return being labeled ‘luck’. Auburn was prepared for the eventuality by having a guy in the ez to return that kick and clearly walled off the left sideline. exhibit 2 would be my twitter account where I said “missed fg returned for a TD?” prior to the kick.

    Unlikely does not necessarily mean lucky.

  31. In the Be Careful for What You Ask for Deparment, folks here in Columbus are ecstatic. The Bucks are in a tough position. Beat MSU and have their weak defense be completely exposed by FSU (assuming the Noles beat Duke, cough, cough) or lose to MSU and be run over yet again by an SEC team.

    edit: I think that OSU has the offensive stuff to score on anyone. Should be interesting no matter how it all shakes out.

  32. Yeah, there was no luck with Auburn and Bama. This was a rare time where Saban got out-coached. Auburn was prepared and Bama wasn’t.

    Against UGA, that’s another story…

  33. Nobody is talking much about Missouri. I’ve seen two of their games live this season and been very impressed. I think they handle Auburn.

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