Where Do We Go From Here? — Second Base (by Rusty S.)

Ed. note: Every year we publish a series of articles entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?” in which we analyze what the Braves need to do in order to get better the following year. Here’s the intro to the series.

The Incumbent

The incumbent, such as it is, is Jace Peterson, who played 87 games at second for the Braves in 2016. Peterson has now amassed 1063 Major League plate appearances, with a career slash line of .237/.319/.334. Optimists may want to toss out his 58 ugly plate appearances in San Diego in 2014, and focus on his 2 year record in Atlanta — .245/.328/.347.

Peterson’s 2016 .254/.350/.366 line was an improvement over 2015, and there is reason to believe that he will continue to improve offensively in his upcoming age 27 season. Whether or not any improvement will be enough to make Peterson a useful major league starter is to be determined. In 2016, Peterson was a 0.4 WAR player, according to Baseball Reference.

Mitigating that a bit is the fact that Peterson had an oWar of 1.3, and I’m not sure how statistically significant the calculation of -0.7 dWar is over 87 games. At 2B Peterson has a career range factor per 9 innings of 5.03, compared to a league average of 4.71. There is a case that at his peak Jace Peterson will be a useful major league starter, but that peak looks to me as if it will be a short one.

Peterson played an additional 16 games in the outfield for the Braves in 2016, and 1 game at 3B. On a better Braves team Peterson would be a useful super-sub, but it looks like the Braves aren’t trying to be that kind of team quite yet. The lefty-hitting Peterson has a career .214/.269/.268 line against left handed pitchers (in 187 PA’s) and the Braves might improve themselves by adding a right handed hitting platoon partner.

Others

Chase d’Arnaud: He is a 29 year old utility infielder who has recorded four unremarkable major league seasons. In 2016 he played all the difficult infield positions and the outfield and may return in a utility role.

Emilio Bonifacio: With all due respect, the title of this article is “Where Do We Go From Here?”

Prospects

Ozzie Albies: Albies is the 12th ranked prospect in baseball, according to mlb.com, and the 5th ranked shortstop. The Braves have apparently settled on Dansby Swanson at shortstop, and Albies’ near term future looks to be at second base (Swanson is the 2nd-ranked shortstop prospect.) Albies suffered an elbow fracture in September while taking a swing, and is questionable for the start of 2017.

Offensively, the switch-hitting Albies dominated Rookie ball in 2014 at age 17, then followed up with a .310 batting average for Rome in 2015. In 2016, he split time between AA Mississippi and AAA Gwinnett, winning the Southern League batting title at Mississippi as a 19-year-old with a .321/.391/.467 slash line. Gwinnett was not as much fun, as Albies recorded a .248/.307/.351 line in 247 PA’s. Defensively, mlb.com rates him as an above average shortstop, which should translate really well to second base. Albies stole 30 bases in 2016, although at only a 70% success rate.

Still, with a combined .292/.358/.420 between AA and AAA as a 19 year old, it is easy to project that Albies at age 20 could already be as productive at the Major League level in 2017 as Jace Peterson will be. However, there is little harm from Albies starting in AAA and seeing how it goes from there. The elbow injury is the wild card, as it is unclear if Albies will be physically ready to compete for the Major League job in Spring Training anyway. It concerns me that someone can fracture their elbow on a swing. Hopefully it is a case like Chipper Jones’ freak knee injury in 1994, and not a sign of some ongoing structural weakness.

Travis Demeritte: Demeritte is the 7th-ranked prospect at second base, according to mlb.com, and the Braves’ 9th-ranked prospect overall. Demeritte is not ranked among the top 100 overall MLB prospects.

As a 21 year old in 2016, the righty-hitting Demeritte posted a .266/.361/.554 slash line between 2 clubs at High A, including 28 home runs in 520 PA’s. Additionally he stole 17 bases in 21 attempts. His 67 walks contributed to his nice .361 OBP, but his average was pulled down by a staggering 175 strikeouts in 455 at-bats. It will be interesting to see if Demeritte can keep up the OBP and/or reduce the strikeout rate when he makes the presumable jump to AA in 2017.

Although Demeritte is two years older and a level and a half behind Albies, he is still quite young and an interesting prospect. He was acquired from the Rangers organization mid-2016, and according to his scouting profile on mlb.com, the Rangers had moved him to second from third base due to a third base glut at their major league level. The presence of Albies makes it a possibility that Demeritte eventually moves back to 3B, where the prospect competition includes Austin Riley and Rio Ruiz. Demeritte ranks above both those players on mlb.com’s Braves prospect list.

I will not get too excited over anybody’s power numbers at High-A. Let’s revisit this after a season at AA.

Free Agents

The best free agent second baseman appears to be Neil Walker. The 31 year old hit 23 home runs and batted .282 in 2016, while making a little over $10 million. The Mets have made him a qualifying offer, and the Braves will not be in on Walker. A cheaper possibility could be right handed hitting Sean Rodriguez, coming off a career year at 31. Rodriguez hit 18 home runs and could platoon with Peterson. I would not expect him to be a huge improvement over Peterson, based on career numbers.

Other familiar names include Kelly Johnson and Gordon Beckham. The Braves focus seems to be on acquiring starting pitching, and with Albies in the pipeline, it’s probably wise long term that the Braves aren’t looking to spend on age 30+ infielders, even if they could get incrementally better in 2017.

Trades

As with free agents, the Braves do not appear to be in the trade market for a second baseman, and the presence of Albies makes it even less likely they would address this position, as opposed to their many other immediate holes (starting pitching, catching, 3B.) The Braves seem to be content to go into 2017 with Jace Peterson as their second baseman, with the idea that Ozzie Albies will get the job as soon as he is ready.

134 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? — Second Base (by Rusty S.)”

  1. I love the Dickey and Colon signings. As Stu said, we have the money, and there’s good reason to believe that for $20 million we’ve bought 50-60 perfectly adequate starts. There will still be plenty of room for the youngsters to force their way into the rotation, but in the meantime we’ve shored up one of the team’s weakest points for a relatively modest amount of money, while signing guys who have no chance of blocking any deserving prospect. Sends a message to every young pitcher on the team that there’s room for them in the rotation if they earn it, but they’ll have to do it by overcoming a veteran with a steady hand.

  2. I love this team infinity times more than the 2016 Braves already. This is pure joy we’re being given, and we deserve it.

  3. Great signings! Without any further signings/trades/releases, the 40-man roster will sit at 38 by the end of next week. Here’s some serious surplus that needs to be traded: Gant, Tyrell, W.Perez, Whalen, Blair, Wisler.

    My theory: Braves are trying to go get a stud front-liner and are willing to move Folty+ for it. Archer?

  4. I would love to see Folty headlining a deal for Archer or Odorizzi plus Longoria.

    Maybe Folty, Albies, Ruiz, Soroka, Whalen and Minter for Archer/Longoria?

  5. I think that’s light, Dusty. I think it’d take something like Folty, Newcomb, Albies, Riley, and more to get the pair. Maybe you could keep Albies out of there by including Peterson and another really good (but not quite Albies-level) prospect, but I dunno.

  6. 7—Albies is probably the sticking point for me. The other three would be worth giving up, IMO, but I probably wouldn’t do it if Albies had to be included, too. If they would take Peterson and more non-Fried/Allard pitching instead, I’d probably do it.

  7. I love the idea of Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson playing up the middle for the next 10-12 years. Dansby’s had a cup of coffee, and Ozzie hasn’t even made it to the table. I’m going to trust the Johns. What else can we do/

  8. From the last thread…

    ***Rob Cope said, With that said, I think acquiring 2 SPs without trading a single prospect signals, at least to me, that the Jenkins/Blair/Whalen/Wisler glut not only does not have much value to other teams, they don’t have much value to us. This signals that they’ll either trade them or stash them in AAA. I was hoping, and no more than that, that they would be able to have some impact at the major league level in 2017. These signings indicate that the feelings about them are lukewarm at best.***

    Well I’m glad because none of those guys outside of Wisler have a lick of real talent. At 42 years of age, Colon won 15 games with a respectable ERA. He and Dickey are literally perfect bridges to Newcomb and Allard, et al.

  9. I think they will acquire a catcher and a reliever and call it an offseason. Goal clearly seems to improve the on-field product for next year, but you don’t sign Dickey and Colon if you have illusions of winning the division. And I’m OK with that.

  10. Signing those two gives me a signal that the management still believes in the current prospects but recognizes that they still need time to develop. Dickey and Colon give the team precisely that one to two year window. Honestly those two can still pitch. They are essentially the Charlie Liebranbts of 2017 for the team.

  11. The discussion on Albies really begins with that troubling elbow. I guess he’s fortunate enough to be a switch hitter. I agree that the injury itself is troubling though.

  12. @13 Still, the thought of having Colon and Dickey at the back of a rotation would mean that is one well-rounded and robust rotation. I still wouldn’t be shocked by a deal for a top flight starter if a deal was there to be had and it fit what Atlanta is willing to pay.

  13. I like the deals for Colon and Dickey too – reasonable salaries and (perhaps more importantly) the Braves didn’t give up any young talent or lose draft picks to sign them. My guess is that the starting rotation now has Teheran, Folty, Colon and Dickey locked in, with Wisler as the favorite for the 5th spot followed by Blair. It is my fervent hope that one or more of Wisler/Blair/Sims/Newcomb develop into playable (sub-4 ERA) starting pitchers by mid-2017, thus solidifying the back end of the rotation.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to see the Braves as a contender for 2017, though the Colon and Dickey signings should help bring the team back to respectability (win total in the 70s). I’d love to see the Braves continue to play the ‘restock the farm system while attempting to compete’ game for another year or so – to my mind, the Braves need several more good position player prospects in the pipeline before the rebuild will be self-sustaining.

  14. They seem to be optimistic about Albies’ elbow. He probably needs to go fill out as quickly as possible, but he’s only 19. It sounds like you just generate so much strength and torque, and your frame just can’t handle it. Wasn’t that the deal with Winkler too? Brutal.

    RE: Peterson

    If the question is, “Does he ever play in Atlanta?”, then I’d imagine that’s TBD. But if the question is whether or not he can play in the major leagues for us or somewhere else, then I think that’s a pretty safe “yes” at this point. I think if you can package Peterson for a young starter or catcher, then I think you need to do it.

    RE: AARP Rotation

    I suppose it’s probable that these guys won’t keep a young pitcher out of the rotation. Whalen is only 22, so he could benefit from some time in AAA. He hasn’t spend any time there yet anyway. But Blair, Jenkins, and Wisler are now 24, so they’re running out of opportunities. There’s going to be attrition with the guys with high ceilings, but I’ve always thought that it’d be a huge win to get a 2/3 starter out of the group of low ceilings pitchers we took back in the early deals. I guess Folty has the best shot of being that. I think it will be a setback in the grand scheme to have given so many innings in 2015-2016 to pitchers who have minimal future value.

  15. @21, I’d be 100% with you, but I think we’re going to see 2-3 significant pieces moved. Coppolella has an itchy trigger finger anyway when it comes to trades, and it’s in his best interests right now to be open to anything. He’s listening on everyone but Freeman and Swanson.

  16. @24
    But he hasn’t traded away many prospects for veterans. He may have an itchy trigger finger for rebuilding trades, but it’s yet to be seen if that itchiness goes both ways.

  17. Mr. Schmortz: first off, you’ve really blossomed into an excellent baseball announcer! I enjoyed your work in the 2016 World Series.

    Secondly – I hope you’re right that Coppy’s willingness to make moves won’t result in any ill-considered prospect-for-veteran deals at this stage of the rebuild. Acquiring Colon and Dickey *should*, at minimum, give the team PR cover for failing to acquire a big name SP like Sale or Archer, who would be quite costly in terms of prospects.

  18. Did something happen to Vizcaino?

    There is enough of an injury concern with Simmons, Winkler, Vizcaino, and Paco that having somebody like Jansen would provide a lot of stability. But he’s 29 and probably looking for a longer deal than we’d give.

    I think it’s also important to note that the Braves did say that if they were in a playoff push, they’d have brought AJ Minter up this past season. I would only assume that he will see time at some point next year, and his minor league numbers suggest he could be better than anyone the Braves could get in free agency.

  19. Is there a marked difference between Shelby and Chris Archer? It was considered that Dansby, Ender, and Blair was a gross overpay. What would have been a fair offer for Shelby? Dansby and Ender? Ender and Blair? Would you trade Mallex, Blair, and Newcomb for Archer? It’d be hard not do to that deal.

  20. Jansen is not the last piece, and I can’t really condone giving a huge contract to a closer given that.

    Archer’s deal is significantly friendlier than Shelby’s was. When we traded him, Shelby had three more years of arbitration left, which would have gotten fairly expensive had he pitched well. Archer has five years of control locked in at a bargain rate, so he offers both cost-certainty and many years of team control. In addition, the market for high-end pitching is much weaker than it was last year, so if Tampa is smart, they’ll ask for the moon. One top prospect + filler isn’t getting it done.

  21. It would be foolish to go after Kenley Janson. We have bigger holes to fill, and guys in the bullpen who are capable.

  22. I like Mallex Smith, but he is by no means guaranteed to be a first-division starter. The Braves, a team that lost 90 games last year, may or may not find playing time for him. It’s tough to imagine him as a centerpiece of a deal for one of the most valuable properties in the game. If Archer was a rental, sure, but again, he has five years of control left over his prime years, none of which are more expensive than $11 million. I would have to think the conversation for Archer starts with Swanson or Albies.

    Jeremy Hellickson accepted the Phillies’ qualifying offer. $17.2 million for him; LOL.

  23. Interesting decision for Hellickson. It is sounding like the QO system will be overhauled next year so if he waits a year he could have no restrictions attached to him, however coming off a great year in this weak FA class, I think I would’ve gone to FA.

  24. The QO really screws the player. I’d imagine it’d be pretty cut-and-dry on accepting the QO. Unless I’m looking at a similar AAV in a multi-year deal, then I really just need to weigh if I can beat that elsewhere or just take it. Of course, you could end up like Ian Desmond.

  25. as an aside, who writes the “where do we go from here?- SS”? If you’re looking for a guest writer, let me submit: we’re there, and oh yeah, Kevin Maitan.

  26. The Mallex/Ender situation is interesting – the Braves would maximize value by playing one of them in CF and trading the other, since they have such similar CF skillsets. However, there are a number of complicating factors: 1) Evidently many teams didn’t see Ender as a legit starting CF as of the time the Braves acquired him (that may have changed as the 2016 season went on); and 2) Mallex has shown a lot of promise but he didn’t definitively show he’s ready to be an MLB regular such that the Braves can count on him in 2017 (or to trade him to another team as a potential MLB regular rather than just a prospect).

    If the Braves were further along the win curve towards playoff competition, they would almost definitely start Ender and keep Mallex for depth. As it stands, I still think the Braves start the 2017 season with both Ender and Mallex on the team. If both players are healthy and producing next year (and Peterson or someone else looks to be a legit 4th OF option), then they can make a mid-season deal accordingly. There are always teams that need a good CF.

  27. I am a big Mallex Smith fan, but Ender is a far more valuable player. He is an elite defender at a position where defense is valuable. Mallex is not a good defender.

    Ender has more pop and is all around better at the plate. Mallex has more speed, but Ender isn’t slow.

    I think our corner stones are Freeman, Julio, Ender and Swanson. That’s a solid group

  28. I think Mallex will wind up closer to Juan Pierre, granted that’s still a 2nd division starter. Blanco never got that far! Given the Brave’s current outfield, the 4th guy might get 500 plate appearances,so I’m not worried about stunting the young’uns growth by sitting on the bench.

    Mallex likely starts the year at Gwinnett anyways…

  29. I would not be willing to trade what it takes to get Sale. Given Coppy’s statements about growing, not buying pitchers,I suspect he agrees with me.

    A trade might look like Mallex (sox need a cf), Wisler/Blair (to fill the hole in the rotation) and then Allard/Newcombe + Soroka/Toussant. It would require a good deal less if we took James Shields and his contract in the deal, but then why sign Colon and Dickey?

  30. Smitty at 46,

    You have to at least check in, but I don’t see it.

    I think the big issue for the Pale Hose is what are they looking for. If they trade Sale, they are saying we aren’t ready to compete, so we need to reload. Then, is that reload within a year or two or play a longer game. If it is the longer game, then Quintana, Abreu, etc. are all also in play. It is basically then a blow up and start over.

    I don’t think they will blow up and start over. If so, they will want Major League proven or Major League ready players. We are not a good fit for this. I know most experts decry the poo poo tray trade, but that is what it would be from the Braves end if it worked. Not because I WOULDN’T give more, but what do we have? Right now, Albies is close enough to be an average Major League regular at second or short, but if he is the centerpiece, the injury makes you look for another player. Mallex is movable. I could see throwing in Dustin Peterson and maybe making another centerpiece in Weigel or Minter. Then, two or three from the “how do we put them on 40 man, but somebody is going to want them” crowd.

  31. Folty’s from the Chicago area and had his best game as a pro last year against the White Sox — if a deal were to happen, I would guess he’d be part of the package. Folty, Newcomb, and maybe one other significant-ish piece ought to get them in the conversation for a Sale/Shields package…I would think.

  32. @47. I’d be interested to hear that guy’s story. It looks like he’s just getting started at 27. I know batting average is overrated, but I think it’s safe to say that he won’t be around very long batting below .100.

  33. Shields to absorb payroll and offset prospect return? If that’s the case, then that could really work for both sides. I really don’t see Folty and Newcomb leaving in the same deal, even if it’s to get the guy they ultimately hope either of those two can be. It would suggest to me that Folty is due for a breakout season, and the numbers are trending so far upward with him that you could really regret trading him as early as June of next year. Folty has reduced his walk rate, hit rate, home run rate, and has kept his strike out rate. He improved his WHIP by almost 4/10 of a point. And with the raw competitiveness, he could be elite. Same with Newcomb and his control. I’d rather deal a position player or two considering the way things look for the next few to several years in Atlanta.

  34. MLBTR chat…

    Scott asks…What do you think the Braves would have to give up for Sale?

    Steve Adams…Think of the single most painful package of young talent you could reasonably withstand and then triple it. Im asking for Ender and/or Dansby plus 3-4 prospects

  35. csg,

    FanGraphs has a good article on why Archer is worth more in trade than Sale. Mainly it centers around the 2 extra years of control. As in are 5 years of a #2 with 3 guaranteed at 30 mill and total of 49 mill worth more than a true ace with 1 guaranteed at 18 and 2 options.

    For the Braves, I would rather take a shot at Sale if I was in this game. The WORST that happens is he blows out his arm and you are out for one years pay and the prospects. Same thing with Archer and it is 3 years pay. For Ender plus 5 or 6 prospects with 2 being pretty good prospects, I am fine. As long as we don’t weaken 2017 Major League team (beyond Ender).

  36. Here you go Seat Painter. I got my hair trimmed this morning.

    Atl gets: Sonny Gray , Ryon Healy, Jumbo Diaz and Tucker Banhart
    Oak gets: Folty, Riley, Collmenter and cash
    Cin gets: Doolittle, Ruiz and Wisler

  37. I’m hoping is pulling a “Pollock”, offering a light package for Sale then getting rejected, and offering same package for Quintana.

  38. That makes no sense. Morton has produced exactly one season where he’s accumulated more than 1 WAR. He’s never made more than 30 starts. He made 4 starts last year. And he sucks. But that’s what $7M per gets you.

    I kinda like our signings now.

  39. With the well documented 40-man crunch that will need to be solved by Friday, I’d say if we are going to do something it will happen within the next 24-36 hours.

  40. Pretty sure we get one of Gray, Archer, or Sale at this point. Yes, please.

    It also appears we may be the favorite for Castro.

  41. @67
    Yeah, adding an ace, or even someone of say Julio’s caliber makes this team pretty formidable. I really don’t want to see any of our big prospects go, but it would be nice to go into the season feeling like we have a chance at the NL east title. I suppose there is enough depth in the organization that we could throw together a package that wouldn’t compromise our pipeline too much. Am I crazy to think Mallex, Jace, a big league reliever of their choice, one of the first round arms from this year’s draft and one of our international signings of the last two years not named Maitan might work?

  42. I wonder what the angle for clearing so many offseason moves before the Winter Meetings is. Is it CBA related? Does he want a solid team in place to convince secondary FAs to come here? I’ve speculated that it must be pretty difficult to get players to come play for a loser.

    Gray makes a lot of sense as a rebound and someone to not sell the farm over.

  43. Other than Fried and Sims, who do we need to add to the 40-man? It looks like all the 60-day guys have been reactivated or released already and we are at 35, so I don’t see any crunch this year (next year will be difficult).

  44. That 35 doesn’t include Colon so that’s 36, one would think Fried and Sims are sure things and it sounds like we want to add a catcher and maybe Francoeur through FA so that’s 40. You’ve got guys like Lien, Meneses and Bird that would have to be added or would be subject to Rule 5 along with 4-5 more lesser but intriguing prospects. Not to mention if Albies or Minter would have to be added whenever they make the bigs and I’m sure we would like to leave a spot open as we will have a high pick in the Rule 5 draft ourselves.

  45. From Ben’s Top 100 prospects at TT these are subject to rule V:

    7 Fried
    16 Sims
    29 Lien
    32 Meneses
    45 C Castro
    46 Odom
    55 Parsons
    75 Camargo
    97 Janas
    100 Bird

  46. But a catcher and Frenchie won’t get added to the roster until after the rule 5 draft. I really don’t see Bird or Meneses getting taken in the rule 5 and can’t imagine Lien makes it a whole season on a ML bench. When we do add Albies and Minter we have some chaff like Roe and Biddle and d’Arnaud that aren’t likely to be claimed off waivers.

  47. I get where you are coming from and if we sign a catcher, Recker may be expendable as well, though talk is heating up on Jason Castro to the point where it wouldn’t surprise me if he signs within the week.

    The point is just flexibility, if we are truly considering a trade for an ace, it would make sense to do it now so you relieve some of that glut before the rule V.

    I’d protect Lien and Meneses and consider Odom, Parsons and Bird if I could.

  48. Wouldn’t trading for an ace make the 40-man glut worse? Nobody wants our 40-man dreck, do they? My preferred order on protection for the rule-5 would go Lien, Meneses, David Peterson, Odom, Parsons, Infinity, Bird.

    The real glut I see this year is going to be starter slots at AAA. I assume the loser of the Wisler/Blair tilt for 5th starter plus Newk, Sims, and Povse are locks. That leaves Jenkins, TwinBills, Whalen, Gant, and possibly Biddle — and I am likely forgetting someone. I say Whalen and let the rest go to the pen.

  49. I’m just not sure I understand trading a bunch of prospects for an ace right now. Obviously that would indicate that they see themselves being contenders, but short of that, then why bother? And if you’re going to trade for an ace, then what has this stockpiling of pitching all been about? If Sonny Grey can be had for a Tim Hudsian level return where you deal a spare part, a high-end pitching prospect, and a reliever (and in this case, another starter) then great, but a 5 WAR pitcher is only going to be about 4 wins better than the winner of the high minors glut. That’s not going to put us over the top, and if you trade someone that has value to the 2017 squad (like a Jace or Adonis or something), then you’re losing another WAR or so there too.

    And lest we forget, here are some of the ages of pitchers who can compete for time in 2017 (age at beginning of season):

    Jenkins – 24
    Wisler – 24
    Blair – 24
    Ellis – 24
    Gant – 24 (important if Collmenter is the swing man)
    Whalen – 23
    Newcomb – 23 (24 in June)
    Fried – 23
    Povse – 23
    Sims – 23
    (Bills, if you care) – 25

    You really have a lot of guys that if they don’t get an opportunity to pitch at the big league level in 2017, and if you’re giving 60 starts already to one year rentals, then why did we acquire all of these pitchers? To let them rot in AAA after their minor league success and age indicate they should be getting major league innings?

  50. If the Braves do get themselves in a roster crunch before the rule 5, and they can only add one player, who would it be? Fried or Sims?

  51. @87
    That won’t happen as there are only 36 (that includes Bartolo who hasn’t been made official yet) on the roster. Adding those 2 only gets ya to 38. However, I’d bet my house that there will either be some 40-man removals or a trade before that deadline.

  52. Bartolo Colon
    much flesh on the bone
    avuncular smile
    the empathetic busy turnstile.

    RA Dickey
    Kilimanjaro had once proved tricky
    Cy Young to the summit
    Everest? we simply can’t believe he dunnit.

    Love for Sale
    if we knew what bid would prevail
    our prospects, our money
    we might still be inclined to go for Sonny.

  53. An a-baller with 100 mph gas destined for the pen. Sounds like we could have had him for Ricardo Sanchez or someone like him.

  54. It does look like the Astros are willing to pay more of the freight for McCann. They’ll be paying two-thirds of his salary, as opposed to the half the Braves were claiming would need to be paid down before they’d consider parting with more than nominal prospects.

  55. That would be bold and painful, but exciting.

    Sounds about right. D-Backs were laughed at for spending on Miller like an ace. I think the same package might not land Sale.

    So yeah, it’d be painful.

  56. Inciarte, Wisler, Newcomb, and Riley — would you be in favor of trading those four for Sale? That seems to me like the kind of package it would take.

  57. Trading Inciarte and Riley…I just don’t feel like we’re so flush with position player talent in our organization that we can (yet) start doling it out for more pitching. I mean, we have drafted the hell out of pitching already.

  58. The problem with that is that the Sox are rebuilding. Ender is a valuable piece, but I think he would only have one more year of control than Sale.

    I think if you swap Swanson for Ender in that package it gets you close. If you want to keep Swanson, it could get really ugly (say Albies, Newcomb, Riley, Acuna, pick your favorite 2 or 3 from Rome’s rotation). I have no idea how much low-minors talent it would take; the Sox could be justified in piling a ton in.

    I’m happy letting some of the talent develop before a big splash, but Sale would be a hell of a get.

  59. If ya look at it in terms of surplus, one of Markakis, Mallex, and Ender are surplus with one being an unknown commodity. If Braves think Mallex can provide equal value of Ender, selling high on Ender could be an option…not the option I’d explore.

  60. I hate the idea of losing Ender. Just think of what a black hole CF has been: Kotsay, Success, The bad Upton (before he turned into the good Upton for about 4 months this year), Ankiel, McLouth. It’s kind of nice to know that position is set for the next 4 years. I could see Mallex or Acuna in a deal though. Thing is, there’s not a ton of OF depth in the system and Kemp and Markakis are gone after 18 so if you trade Ender your 2019 OF is what Mallex, Peterson and Acuna?

  61. 113—There is literally a 0% chance of Swanson being traded. I think it will take a lot to get Sale, but I don’t think it will take quite as much as you think it will take.

    Good point on Ender and control, though. I was trying to put him in there instead of Albies, but realistically, Albies probably has to be in the deal. Something like Albies, Wisler, Newcomb, and either Riley or Demeritte ought to be in the neighborhood, though. That’d be a really nice package for the Sox.

  62. @111

    I would do it in a vacuum. My only question are:

    – Can Mallex be your everyday CF on a winning team?
    – If not, can we get someone who is?

  63. For sale, I think we give up young blue chip pitchers (A-ball first round types), two “other” pitchers and Chicago will want one of our best position player prospects. Depending on who the position player(s) would be, we could make that deal. We can afford to trade 4 pitchers. But I don’t think we give up a Maitan or Albies.

  64. Yeah, screw all of this. We traded a 4 WAR shortstop to get Sean Newcomb. We fired our pitching coach because he wasn’t developing young pitchers. We took back every Tommy John’ed elbow not nailed down in 2015. We keep hiring pitching coach after pitching coach. We had a 6’4″ guy throwing 98 come out of nowhere to win the Minor League Pitcher of the Year. And we drafted 5 high school pitchers in the top 3 rounds these past two drafts. Someone needs to teach Newcomb to find the strike zone or Folty to take the next step. Up until about 2 weeks ago, the majority thought we were about an 82 win team. Sale has 3 years of control, and we’re supposed to gut our farm to get this guy? Screw. That.

  65. I could see Ender Inciarte being part of the package, but not Albies, Swanson, or Matan. I expect Coppollela has drawn his line in the sand, and he won’t be shipping away any core pieces. I think we’ll be surprised by how little it took if we trade for Sale.

  66. 120—Sale is the best-case scenario for any of these prospects. He’s one of the ten best starting pitchers in baseball, a true ace. If you can get the guy who’s already Chris Sale — and signed affordably for three more years — for two or three guys you’re just hoping will develop into that kind of value, I just think you have to do it, even considering how painful it is to part with all these young guys you’ve been hoping on for two years.

  67. If the Sox trade Sale, it’s because they’re rebuilding. There should be a deal out there that doesn’t involve trading established (or nearly established like Albies) position player talent. I’d love to trade the young guys I’ve been hoping on for two years. If they felt like acquiring a bunch of 23- and 24-year old prospects who are running out of chances, then I’m game.

  68. Sale’s great but it makes very little sense to me to spend two years trading away everyone with a pulse to improve the farm system, then immediately gut said farm system to get one guy.

  69. (a) I don’t think you’d be “gutting” the system. The reason the system is rated so highly by everyone is because of depth; it can withstand some attrition and maintain its top-tier status.

    (b) That one guy for whom they’d be trading is one of the 10-20 most valuable commodities in baseball. If you’re ever going to trade prospects for established players, this is exactly the sort of established player you want.

    The only question for me, assuming I’m close-ish on what it would take to get him, is timing. “Wasting” one of his three years in a year where we don’t realistically project to compete is not ideal.

  70. Fangraphs has an article up warning the Braves not to sell the farm system in an attempt to compete in 2017 – “The Braves Should Be Wary of Becoming the Diamondbacks”.

    The gist of the article is the Braves are projected for 72-73 Wins, and adding Sale wouldn’t bring the team within striking range of the playoffs – in essence, it’s too early for the team to push their chips to the middle of the trading table. I agree with the article’s general point, though I do think the Braves’ position player core is better than Fangraphs thinks (evidently our position players grade out as one of the worst groups in baseball).

    Seems like it would make a lot more sense for the Braves to go after Sale in 2018 when he’ll have one fewer year of team control and presumably would cost less to acquire (and the Braves’ prospects will have had a chance to develop additional value). Of course, it could well be that the rotation looks to be stocked with MLB-ready arms by the end of the 2017 season so the Sale question becomes moot.

    I’m sticking wth my prediction of ~75 wins for 2017 if there are no other major moves. Did a majority of posters on BJ project the 2017 Braves to win 82 games as Rob Cope says @120?

  71. I could go either way on this, honestly. If any of the pitching prospects has one year as good as Sale’s average year, he’ll have beaten the odds, and Sale goes a long way towards making the team competitive in every year the Braves would have him. I don’t think the “wait a year” argument holds much water either — if the White Sox are genuinely making Sale available for a non-absurd price, some team is going to pay that price, and that team is almost certainly not going to be looking to sell him off again this time next year. On the other hand, the Braves may be a year too early — but people said that about the Cubs in 2015, too. Teams can come on faster than the “give it a year, wait for the young players to establish themselves” crowd expects, and if the Cubs had been gunshy before the 2015 offseason because they were afraid they weren’t yet at the exact window for maximum contention, they wouldn’t have gotten Jon Lester. Sometimes you have to pursue a rare opportunity even if it doesn’t fit precisely into the timeline.

    It’s tricky. I really think it comes down to the exact price. If you’re making the Miller trade in reverse, it’s obviously problematic even if Sale pitches like Sale (and not like 2016 Miller). But pitchers like Sale don’t come along every offseason, and they don’t come cheap, so you owe it to yourself to at least see if a reasonable deal can be put together.

  72. As expected, the Braves protected Sims and Fried. They also protected Johan Camargo, a light-hitting infielder in AA.

  73. @127

    My impression is that most posters on here feel the Braves are around that .500 team that we finished the season as. We’ve had no attrition via FA and retirement, aren’t set for any real regression, have already added two FA SPs, and should see development from several different players who are projected to be regulars.

    Seems like it would make a lot more sense for the Braves to go after Sale in 2018 when he’ll have one fewer year of team control and presumably would cost less to acquire (and the Braves’ prospects will have had a chance to develop additional value). Of course, it could well be that the rotation looks to be stocked with MLB-ready arms by the end of the 2017 season so the Sale question becomes moot.

    I think this sums it up really well, specifically the last point. I’m cautiously optimistic that one or two of all of these pitchers steps up in 2017, rendering the need to give up 2 position players or multiple high end prospects unnecessary.

  74. @130

    I really don’t feel that the same team unchanged is a .500 team. Maybe it’s a little better than last year overall, assuming Matt Kemp gets in shape and Swanson continues to develop and Colon and Dickey provide what they’re supposed to, but this is a 70-75 win team as currently constituted. It’s not good enough, and a September run against the league’s 40-man callups doesn’t change that.

    Besides that, a move like this is going to have to be made eventually or this team is not going to get over the hump. I’m sick of this rebuild, and I really don’t see the point in waiting around another year to see what happens. It’s not going to get us anywhere. We’ll be sitting here next Thanksgiving with basically the same problems, even if the team does finish around .500 next year. We’ll still need to make a move like this to get over the hump. I don’t see the point to not going ahead and activating the final portion of this plan, which is to start using some of these prospects in trades to get over the final hurdle.

    I’m not saying we should just start trading prospects willy-nilly, obviously you have to know who you want to keep and who’s expendable, etc. But waiting another year is totally unnecessary and, as it turns out, might be counterproductive, especially moving into the new stadium.

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