Where Do We Go From Here?: Trade. Everyone. (by Edward)

Here we are in the ruins of our once-mighty house. It rains almost every day; the humidity hangs around 100% when it doesn’t. We grope our way through an unending mist toward—what else?—another winter. Time to take melancholy stock of it all.

What have we got in the cupboard? A fine first baseman, a spectacular shortstop, a pair of prize pitchers. That’s something.

And in the cellar? A peck of pickled pitchers, four outfielders nearing their expiration dates, a jar labeled “major league catcher” that looks like it’s anything but, three questionable Cuban so-and-so’s, a second baseman that’s half-spunk and half-skunk, some pills of varying strength for relief (ostensibly), a few odds, a few ends.

Better not rattle the piggy bank if we want to keep our spirits up.

Not much to live on, I’d say. The yield of the field promises much—but even there we may have planted too many oats and not enough wheat. When the house is bare and the crop still low and the cash is all but spent—well, it’s either lean living or off to market.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had all the lean living I can take. I might be able to last until 2017, but beyond that I’ll wither. It’s time to start making our next fortune, and I mean now, and I mean through trade. The best way to put together a good team in the long run is to START putting together a good team now.

Here’s how we do it: Everything is permitted. Everything is on the table. We need to go into full-on inscrutable Billy Beane mode, listen to every offer on every player. We have really good players at a few positions, but we can’t enter this off-season with the idea that we are “set” anywhere. If Shelby Miller gets us a good third baseman and an actual catcher, deal him. If Freddie Freeman and Michael Bourn can be turned into a power hitter and a pitching prospect we like, fire away. Cash out the entire bullpen. Andrelton Simmons, king of my heart: depose him for the right A-prospect. Some sunny Priam probably wants an affordable Hector who might turn into a hitter. Cash out the entire bullpen again.

And don’t draw the line at Atlanta, either. Trade the farm! Don’t weaken the farm—I suppose that the one rule the Braves absolutely must abide by—but there isn’t a single player in the system who couldn’t be moved for the right price. Do I have any idea why the club might find it preferable to move Mallex Smith or Austin Riley or Ozhaino Albies? Hell no I don’t, but unhinged general managers trying to make a splash before they get fired don’t call my staff in the middle of the night to sound out their latest harebrained schemes.

2017 starts with 2016, and 2016 starts now. Be open. Be bold. Be creative. Be busy. Let’s don’t sit on our hands.

Get it done, Johns.

54 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here?: Trade. Everyone. (by Edward)”

  1. When I see “Springtime for Hitler” performed on the field next August, my only question will be who is paying whom?

  2. #Braves OF Dian Toscano, a Cuban signed nearly a year ago, has finally been cleared to play. Might play winter ball later this year.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) November 6, 2015

    🎵Little ditty ’bout Hector & Dian
    Two young Cuban men playin’ ball in a new land🎵

  3. Hold on to 16 million as long as you can, changes come around real soon make us lose all our fans.

  4. The frustration of being a Braves fan is we already know most of what they are and aren’t going to do and know that it will be very difficult for this 2016 team to make it to .500, and if it does, it will be of an “unsustainable nature.”

    We need 34 WAR, total, to be a projectable .500 team, right? Then, you need about a projectable 89 wins (8 more WAR) to be a fairly likely playoff team. Then, you need about 3 more to be a fairly likely division champ. Then you need about 3 more to be a highly likely division champ with good chance of home field advantage. On the open market, 34 WAR costs around 234 million and 42 costs around 294 mill.

    So, the REAL question is how do you get to 34 in 2016 and 42 in 2017 with a budget of 120 mill. You have to average paying (2017), about 2.8 million per WAR. That is VERY hard to do, and can only work (my estimation) for 2 to 3 years out of every 8 or so, UNLESS, you develop better, find better, trade better, and figure better.

    I am convinced that this team has 2 choices. (A) raise payroll by 2017 to 140 mill or (b) piddle and try to compete in 17 / 18 window and at the end of 18 again face what we faced at end of 14. That is so, EVEN IF, we “develop better, find better, trade better, and figure better.”

    How many players do we have that will likely produce WAR for less than 2.8 mill in 2017? How many might if they develop well / correctly? How many can we find? THESE are the ultimate questions.

  5. The thread intro and all the above posts is why I visit this site every day! Well done gentlemen!

  6. I like carrying Jace and Castro as a second base platoon. Then, Castro can spell Simmons every couple of weeks against a righthander. I think that platoon could be a 3 WAR ish platoon of second base innings and plat appearances.

    I think Adonis can be a good lefty masher and decent 3B for a couple of years. He really needs a platoon partner.

  7. The only way you get playoff calibre WAR on the cheap is have the bulk of your team be very young and very good. We can easily do the young part. The good part is so much harder.

  8. Enjoyed the post, Edward! I don’t have a ton of hope that the Braves braintrust is going to even attempt to put together a team that could reasonably be expected to contend for 2016, but we’ve absolutely got to see the pieces in place for contention 2017-onward. By that, I mean mostly assembling a group of position players whose overall offensive and defensive contributions give us a chance to win if and when our young starting pitching comes together.

  9. @8

    Eyeballing Cot’s, here are the Braves likely to produce at least a win above replacement per $2.8 million of salary (2015 salaries and completely cockamamie WAR projections in parentheses):

    Andrelton Simmons ($6.1 million)(4 war)
    Julio Teheran ($3.5 million) (2.5 war)
    Shelby Miller ($4.9 million, estimated) (3.5 war)
    Arodys Vizcaino ($1.1 million, estimated) (1 war)
    Jace Peterson (~.6 million) (.5 war)
    Daniel Castro (~.6 million) (.5 war)
    Adonis Garcia (~.6 million) (1 war)
    2 of Foltynewicz, Wisler, Banuelos, Jenkins, Perez, Perez (~$.6 million each) (2.5 war, combined)

    And it’s well within the realm of possibility for the following players:

    Freddie Freeman ($12.3 million) (3.5 war)
    Mike Minor ($5.6 million) (2 war)
    Dian Toscano ($1.3 million) (1 war)
    Christian Bethancourt (~$.6 million) (.5 war)
    some relievers whatever (1 war, combined)

    That’s about $40 million for something like 16 roster spots and 23.5 WAR. If Hector ends up decent that could turn into $46 million for 25.5 WAR. That’s $1.8 million per WAR. Not bad so far. It depends on a bunch of thing working out, but so does everything. Not bad.

    Throw in guaranteed contracts to Markakis, Maybin, Bourn, Swisher, and Paco Rodriguez (total $38.6 million, *maybe* 3 WAR, most of which is Cakes): $84.6 million for 20 roster spots and 28.5 WAR.

    So we’re looking for 6 WAR and we’ve got ~$35 million to spend? Heyward or Price would be so nice to help us get there. I’ve convinced myself in writing this that it’s not as far-fetched as all that. And that this WAR/$ bent is only about half the picture.

  10. Minor, Toscano, Vizcaino, and the guaranteed contracts crew all producing that much is unlikely — let alone Olivera — but yeah, this is what I was saying the other day. It’s possible to move on from the Olivera trade.

    We need a couple bigger FA signings to pan out for once, a couple big trades to generate value, two SP prospects to step up their game, or some combination of the above in order to contend.

    Shelby’s nice and all, but I would prefer to land a frontline SP, despite the risk, so that we don’t get bounced from the playoffs right away.

  11. This is the year to get a protected FA if we are ever going to get one.

    Thanks Edward for following the theme. I ran short on time. And I concur that Heyward and Price are the two specific FA’s that add the most to the Braves. Greinke as the pitcher is doable as well.

    However, I think our cheap ass owners / FO will divvy the money u over more players. The veteran relief guys will take 4 mill, the fairly decent (hopefully) catcher will take 5, a “may be able to sell at deadline coming off injury” starter for 4, a mid level starter for 15, and some semblance of an outfield platoon guy for 8 to 10.

    And, that might get us to 500 next year, but will hamstring us trying to get to 89 or so wins in 17.

  12. Dave Cameron is just piling it on.

    “This is one of those picks that I’m guessing a lot of people are going to make, because the connections seem pretty obvious. The Braves need a catcher, and are looking to build their roster for 2017, so they’re not necessarily focused on adding the most wins possible in the short-term. Matt Wieters, who grew up in South Carolina and went to school at Georgia Tech, is pretty much the only significant catcher on the free agent market this winter, and coming off a lost season, he presents an opportunity for a team to buy low if they can take the risk of betting on a bounce-back season. The Braves have that opportunity, and with a protected first round pick, can sign a guy who received a qualifying offer at a lesser price than some other clubs. So I’ll put Wieters in Atlanta for $64 million over four years, which leaves them enough room to also add David Freese (3/$33M) to fill the third base hole, now that Hector Olivera is heading to the outfield.”

    Why wouldn’t we want to sign bad older players for a lot of money over several years?!?

  13. @15

    The FO has to get a little credit with some great moves last offseason. Callaspo sucked, but KJ, Pierzynski, and Johnson were acquired very inexpensively. They were out $4M on all of those guys. Grilli was $4M on his own, but he was also certainly worth it pre-injury. If you put all of those guys into a pot and call Callaspo Uribe, then you had Uribe, KJ, Pierzynski, Grilli, and Johnson for $11M. Should the Braves make some similar moves, there’s a lot of value to be gained there.

    @13

    A big part of the rebuild and shifting of everything around was bring in Roy Clark and the Scouting Dream Team (TM). If this organizational about-face is going to work, a big part is the scouting department having made some smart decisions in who we picked up in trades last year. I’m tempted to believe that we will see high WAR/$ value with our pen this year. If you go Grilli/Vizcaino/then a bunch of random people the scouting department and McDowell feel are solid pieces will result in a very cost-efficient bullpen.

    With so much other risk in the player portfolio, I hate that we’re going to bring Minor back at his 2015 salary, but it is what it is. That’s another huge piece of the puzzle. If he doesn’t come back at least serviceable, I don’t think we’ll be competitive.

    So at the end of the day, employing the WAR/$ approach is so limited because you just don’t know what you’ve got right now. Known commodities and front line FAs are great, but teams like the Giants, Royals, and Cardinals consistently win year-in and year-out without the big “stars” on the team, and the Braves will have to do the same.

  14. David Freese is even more Markakis than Markakis. I don’t really have any problem at all with paying an AAV of $11 million for a league-average guy at a position where we’ve got a hole. One thing worth remembering with Freese is he plays in a pretty tough pitcher’s park.

    And Schuerholz essentially committed the team to spending money so that we’re not as brutally awful in 2016 as we were this year. But I really hope they don’t wind up giving $100 million to Freese and Olivera Wieters.

  15. I agree with you about everything but Mike Minor, Rob Cope. (Well, first off we haven’t officially offered him anything yet, have we? Maybe we have. I don’t know.) A pitcher who was good once and isn’t too old for five and a half million on a one-year deal is exactly what the Braves should be looking for, and I don’t think we find it anywhere but with Minor. The risk that he isn’t any good is relatively high, but the cost to the team now is minimal and the cost to the team in the future is virtually nothing.

  16. @19

    I guess you’re right. He’s only 2 years removed from a stellar season. Had he pitched more effectively in ’14, then I’d feel even better, but I guess he’s no worse a bet than hoping you can find an Aaron Harang on the scrap-heap. Them pickin’s are slim.

  17. Getting back to the original post…one of the main things that bugs me about our team is that even though we’ve got one of the worst everyday lineups in baseball, we seem to be “set” at far too many of the positions. How much better can you expect to get?

    Trading Freeman/Simmons/Miller might be the best way to truly rebuild. I’m guessing that wouldn’t go over so well though.

  18. On a day brightening note, listening to the sports radio guys on 680 cry while they have to walk back their Jeremy Pruitt is fired stories today has been delightful.

  19. @23- Hey I’m down. But moving Simmons for me would be the second time in two years the Braves go all Eve 6 on my tender heart.

  20. @23 Agreed there. The way I see it, two or three of Simmons, Markakis, Maybin, Swisher/Bourn, or Peterson can’t be opening day starters. Just way too much below-average-to-average offensive production to be a good team. Or you have to have a top-3 offensive player at a couple other positions to offset it.

    That’s my concern about Heyward. Does he hit enough for this team to be successful?

  21. Not by himself. He does in a line-up not clogged with 3 or more terrible hitters. But we haven’t figured out how to avoid that for 3 years running now.

  22. @23,

    You’ve made this point before, and I agree. Signing David Freese and Nick Markakis makes sense when you have a pretty good lineup but have a glaring hole at one position. When you’re expecting those 2 WAR players to be major acquisitions and the anchors of your lineup, you’re in serious trouble, as we are. We need a couple of outstanding positional players to go with all the average players (Markakis) and weak-hitting guys (Simmons).

  23. P.S.: If we need a third baseman, why don’t we just sign Uribe for 1 season. I bet he’d be just as good as Freese and probably better for less money over fewer years.

  24. I said Uribe was better than Olivera this past summer and took all kinds of shit for it. I’d take him again, fo sho.

  25. weird and off the wall on 3B.

    I was reading Keith Law’s Free Agent rankings today. He has Heyward @ 1 and Jupton #4.

    He said in his write up on Chris Davis (that’s the ex Oriole) that he came up playing 3B and was not terrible, but never got up to average. Law also is talking 15 a year for 3 years. Last year, Davis had a good bit better walk rate.

    So, if the limits on his defense are range limits (being a “good 1B” per Law would mean that hands aren’t the problem and arm shouldn’t be the problem), can you sign him, put him at third, put him a stride closer to the line and let Simmons gobble up part of the lost range to the left? In two years Rio will be ready if he ever is. Then, in another 2 years Riley will be a killer. So, if Rio comes on better and the D slides too fast, you should be able to move one year of Davis to an AL club for a dh, maybe.

    Lineup with Markakis, Maybin, Freeman, Olivera, Davis, Weiters, Peterson, Simmons, pitcher might do it. Platoon Castro in for Peterson against lefties. Bring in Bourne as a defensive replacement for Markakis.

  26. sdp@31,

    Does that mean no pay for this past year and year 2 per contract starts in spring training?

    Was there any bonus? How is it affected (if at all)?

  27. I don’t know much about our financial flexibility, but adding Heyward, Greinke, Price, and Cueto would really help make this team competitive.

  28. I hate the idea of giving out multiyear deals to middling free agents who will just chew up payroll and drag down production if and when we ever do get good again. It’s what I didn’t like about the markakis signing, and what I am afraid will transpire again this winter in an ill advised attempt to gin up ticket sales with an expensive fig leaf or two.

  29. Where Do We Go From Here?: Trade. Everyone.

    Another rebuild, for those who just couldn’t get enough 2015 Braves baseball.

  30. @37, exactly. If we’re going to sign someone, I’d prefer we focus on 1) reclamation projects who have a chance of working out (like Trevor Cahill, who didn’t), 2) cheap veteran talent (like David Ross), and the occasional 3) marquee guy who will be quite good for quite a while (like Heyward). Signing Markakis and Freese is like buying a new Yugo instead of a used Oldsmobile.

  31. Dian Toscano
    we had gone mano a mano
    with other Cuban emigres
    many of whom were also opting for a raise.

    Dian Toscano
    in Havana he played night club piano
    baseball had been suggested
    as lessening the chances of his being arrested.

    Dian Toscano
    hits leftie, sings mezzo soprano
    the clubhouse confusion
    still welcomed his high pitched inclusion.

  32. Doug Fister
    he dated everybody but his sister
    at playerswives dot com
    the details are accredited with aplomb.

    Nikolas Markakis
    we can argue what the take is
    but his speed and his power
    they do tend to diminish by the hour.

    Trevor Ca-hill
    he was just so very run of the mill
    but he played the post season
    for which there can be no rhyme, no reason.

  33. Any camper trailer people out there? If so, know what’s the best bang for my buck using this criteria?

    >2500 pounds
    16ft or less
    Toilet a must.

    Want to tow with my AWD Saturn Vue.
    Thx!

  34. @43, 44: Bravo

    Cahill (Trevor)
    Worst pitcher ever
    A good gamble for 6 mil?
    Better to light it afire atop the pitching hill

    Toscano (Dian)
    I’d be believin’ if I were seein’
    He remains but a rumor
    As real as vapor, ether, humor

  35. Dian Toscano
    they say his arm’s like noodle-guano
    but of Cuban leftfielders, now we’ve got three
    maybe the Johns have identified the new market inefficiency.

  36. Lucas Sims starting in the AFL all-star game shortly. Interested to see how he does against a legitimate AAAA lineup.

  37. Fooled a couple guys, some hard hit balls including an inside-the-park-homer. Most people I’ve ever seen at an AFL game. How’d it look on the MLB Network?

  38. @23-

    I’m dumping this team if they trade Simba. He’s brought me more enjoyment than any Brave in the past 5+ years. Kimbrel would’ve been up there, too, but he’s a closer, and when you suck, closers are just not something you can hold on to.

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