Braves Winter Meetings Primer–Trade not Free Agents

As the winter meetings start today I thought I’d just post a few reminders about what we can expect and why the Braves under GM Frank Wren  would rather make trades than look at free agents. As I see it there are a few things to keep in mind when considering players to be added.

  • Payroll: The 2012 payroll will be around the 2011 payroll. That will be the approximately $91.5 million they had entering the season not the $100 million or so at the end.
  • Derek Lowe ($10m) and Nate McLouth ($1.75) count against that number.
  • Currently we have about $92.3M committed:
  1. $38.7M committed to every day players
  2. Estimated $11.6 in everyday player arbitration
  3. $920,000 committed to Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman
  4. $7.125m Committed to three bench players (Matt Diaz, Eric Hinske, David Ross)
  5. One minimum salary (est. $500,000) bench slot (Drew Sutton/ Brooks Conrad etc.)
  6. $9M committed to Tim Hudson
  7. Est. 7.5M in arb salary to Jair Jurrjens and Eric O’Flaherty
  8. Est. $5.5 M for six minimum salary pitchers (including bringing back Peter Moylan for $2m)
  • We have yet to add a shortstop or the power bat the GM said he wanted
  • This is why the Wren says he will most likely make changes via a trade rather than signing a big name free agent.

    Realistically what we can expect in the way of improvements will come from moving Jurrjens (est. $5.1M) or Prado (Est. 4.4M) for the RH hitting outfield bat. If pushed they might let Moylan go and fill that spot with Cory Gearrin.

    Who Fits?

    The recent news that the Orioles might listen on Adam Jones brings his name to the forefront. As an arb. eligible guy he would make near ($5.8) what Jurrjens and more than Prado are projected to make. But he does answer the need for a center fielder should Michael Bourn move on next year. In spite of a low ISO he hit 25 homers, 28 doubles, 2 triples and drove in 87 for the Birds last year. This is corner outfielder production and he’s far more versatile than the oft rumored  Seth Smith.

    My previous pick as the right fit – Carlos Quentin – will earn about $6.5M this year. More than JJ but still within reach.  He doesn’t solve the ‘when Bourn leaves’ issue but that’s a longer term process that will more than likely be addressed later in any event.

    Sending the impotent bat of Matt Diaz along in any trade we make might free up enough for a veteran shortstop back up like Jack Wilson at $800K, Edgar Renteria at $1.5M or perhaps Omar Vizquel.  As with everything of course matching up in a trade requires that both sides see their team improved by it.

    Would the Orioles see having Jurrjens for two years a way to improve a bad pitching staff while weakening their lineup by losing Jones a positive move? I don’t know. They probably aren’t going to resign Jones and might have a better shot at JJ so it is a possibility.

    Would the White Sox see adding JJ or Prado a step towards building their future and fair value for Quentin? Perhaps. Both are younger and offer a needed skill set that might entice them to make the deal.

    There are obviously other moves that could be made of course. The key to this is staying “around last year’s payroll” and not over paying for a declining player at any position.  I’d like to hear your take on this. Email me at [email protected] or follow @fredeowens on Twitter.

    Tags: Adam Jones Carlos Quentin Derek Lowe Frank Wren Freddie Freeman Jason Heyward Martin Prado Matt Diaz Nate Mclouth Peter Moylan Trade Rumors Winter Meetings

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