As if the Andrelton Simmons trade didn’t swirl up enough drama, the rumor mill got even juicier this weekend when Ken Rosenthal came out with a report stating that the team is trying to move anyone owed money, and that moving Freddie Freeman had been discussed. This would imply that Julio Teheran, Cameron Maybin and Nick Markakis could be on the block as well. New GM John Coppolella has refuted that the team has had any discussions regarding moving Freeman:
#Braves Coppolella when asked just now specifically about new Freeman rumor: "We have not had any trade discussions on Freddie Freeman."
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) November 15, 2015
You definitely have to question the credibility here, however. While he did not refute reports regarding Simmons last week, the front office went down a similar path with Craig Kimbrel. Nothing should be ruled out. The question the front office has to ask themselves is whether they should go all in on the rebuild, though clearly they’re pretty close. However, moving all of these name makes little sense.
I understand the Simmons trade. The man just can’t hit. I wanted young bats in return for him, but didn’t lose any sleep over the trade. Trading Freeman and Teheran would be foolish. For starters, their value is far from at its peak right now. Freeman had an injury marred season and statistically the worst full season of his career. The only reason the team could be moving him is what he is owed in the coming years. He is due $12 million this season, but this figure jumps over $20 million in 2017 and pays him around that neighborhood until 2020. However, according to Braves chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk, revenue from the new ballpark could see the team have a top 10 payroll, with jumps expected to begin as soon as 2017, per Phil W. Hudson of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The team will have to gauge Freeman’s value, but shelling out that type of money for a guy who is serving as the face of the franchise can easily be justified.
Julio Teheran should stay as well. Yes, I realize the Braves have stockpiled pitching, but I think Teheran and Miller headlining our rotation for the time being is a solid young foundation, as they both have an All-Star Game under their belts by their age 25 seasons. He came back into his own after experiencing a bit of a funk last season, but his splits at home could suggest maybe he just had some travel yips. I expect big things out of Teheran next season, and it’ll be hard to acquire an arm with as much upside.
Markakis and Maybin make a little more sense. Personally I doubt the team moves Markakis. We just signed him last offseason, and he was the most consistent hitter in our lineup. However, he is owed money and is on the wrong side of 30. If the team feels they should shed that salary now, they might. However, I expect an uptick in production from Markakis with a full offseason to recover from his neck surgery, which undoubtedly affected his power last season. He fall under the category of another player who’s value isn’t what it could be.
Speaking of players being moved at their value’s peak, the Braves probably should have traded Cameron Maybin at last season’s trade deadline. With Mallex Smith close to being MLB ready, I think he’s the team’s most likely trade candidate. John Hart has gone on to talk about how he wants Michael Bourn to mentor the young Smith. They reportedly will have their lockers besides each other’s in Spring Training. I expect the team to trade Maybin for some prospects and sign a right-handed platoon man to compliment Michael Bourn until Smith makes his MLB debut, which I expect will occur by June’s end.
Given Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher’s salaries for this season, the team will undoubtedly try to move them. However, it may be nearly impossible to do so without giving up value.
Overall, I think a lot of these rumors are speculation. Simmons was a big name to be moved and the Braves are one of the few teams that have gone all-in on a rebuild. I think the target date for this team’s success is a lot more far off than many fans would like to hope, but regardless I still think the team has made the right decision to do so. However, moving young pieces such as Freeman and Teheran make little sense. Look for Cameron Maybin to be moved in the coming weeks, but I expect the others listed to be in a Braves uniform come Opening Day.