Jeff Passan of Yahoo has reported that the Braves are “desperate” to acquire tradable draft picks by taking on bad contracts in exchange for competitive balance picks. Trading for one of these picks would give us 5 picks in the top 100, and we could make more than one deal. As of now, Competitive Balance picks are the only tradable picks in Major League Baseball. That seems soon to change, but let’s see how the Braves could acquire some of these picks:
Braves acquire Carl Crawford & 36th Overall Pick from the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Jason Hursh
This one is my favorite of the deals. Carl Crawford is a former All-Star who is scheduled to make $20 million this year and $21 million in 2017. Jason Hursh is a former first round pick who has not lived up to expectations, and we can use him as a chip to acquire a bat and a nice pick in between the 1st and 2nd round. Crawford has had problems with injuries, but could make a turnaround in Atlanta.
Billy Butler & 37th Overall Pick from the Oakland Athletics for RHP Mauricio Cabrera
This deal is probably the most realistic of the trades. Billy Butler is coming off the bench for Oakland, but is scheduled to make $10 million this year and $10 million next year. Atlanta could just cut him and eat the $10 million, but Butler is a solid backup for Freddie Freeman and a power bat off of the bench. “Country Breakfast” hit .251 with 15 HRs last year.
Jon Niese & 41st Overall Pick from Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Alec Grosser
Jon Niese still has some value, but if the Pirates are looking to open up a spot for top prospect Jameson Taillon, this could be their way to dump a big contract. Niese is 29, and has a 3-2 record with a 5.32 ERA. He has given up an MLB leading 10 Home Runs. He should fit right in. This deal is unlikely to happen because Niese is owed $9 million this year, $10 million in 2017, and $11 million in 2018- but 2017 and 2018 are team options.
Ricky Nolasco or Phil Hughes & 73rd Overall Pick from Minnesota Twins for RHP Stephen Janas
I expected the Twins to have a turnaround year, but Hughes and Nolasco have both underperformed.
Nolasco- 2014: 5.38 ERA, 2015: 6.75 ERA. 2016: 4.70 ERA. Scheduled to make $12 million in 2016 and 2017.
Hughes- 2015: 4.40 ERA, 2016: 5.85 ERA. Scheduled to make $9.2 million this year, and $13 million per year from 2017-2019.
Not a fan of the Hughes deal, he makes too much for too long, but Nolasco is interesting to me. I’d take Nolasco, but not Hughes.
Ubaldo Jimenez & 76th Overall Pick from Baltimore Orioles for RHP Luis Gamez
Ubaldo Jimenez is a former Cy Young Winner who is on his last big contract for his career. Jimenez makes $13 million this year and next, but he’s also not having a great year. He’s posted an ERA above 4.00 for the last 3 years, and he’s not looking up anytime soon. This is a late pick, so this deal may not be worth it.