Braves lefty Alex Wood Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Rumors Start As Alex Wood Goes to Gwinnett


As I wrote a couple of days ago Jordan Walden was activated from the DL today. The man sent to Gwinnett however wasn’t David Hale but Alex Wood. This on the heels of a post by Braves beat writer David O’Brien suggesting that the Braves will trade a starter for relief help. In today’s post about Wood, O’Brien says that the Braves said he wasn’t going just to provide a roster spot for Walden but also to be stretched out as a starter once more.

Wood is scheduled to throw 60 pitches in his first start, then 75 and 90 in his next two. He could be ready to come up at any point after that or even before if the Braves have an injury or opening in the rotation.

The rational provided in O’Brien’s earlier post was that Gavin Floyd would be the man traded because he’s owed the most money. That fits the Braves recent strategies and Floyd is likely better trade bait than Aaron Harang simply because he’s younger and started the season later, so he is  less likely to fade.  There are lots of potential left handed veterans who might be available from clubs not in contention; the Cubs, Astros, Rays, Diamondbacks and Rangers come to mind. Without going into a long evaluation of each here’s what a glance at their respective rosters reveals.

Tradable Commodities

Contending teams aren’t going to give up a valuable piece so any daydreams of getting someone like Javy Lopez should be quelled right now. Here’s a look at those not contending and know they won’t be.

Astros:

The Astros have a couple of lefties in their pen, Darin Downs and Tony Sipp. Downs is 29 years old and in his third major league season. He’s appeared in 15 games but thrown just 13 1/3 innings. He’s pitching to a 1.32 ERA / 0.878 WHIP while striking out 11 and walking two without allowing a home run. His left right splits for this season are below.

Split PA AB R H BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHB 27 25 1 6 .240 .296 .280 .576
vs LHB 25 24 1 4 .167 .200 .250 .450
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/10/2014.

Downs had parts of two seasons with the Tigers prior to heading to being claimed off waivers from Detroit. As a tiger he posted a 4.34 ERA / 1.321 WHIP 56 IP over 47 games.

The 30 year old Sipp came up in the Indians organization and spent 4 years in Cleveland before moving to Arizona as part of the Trevor Bauer trade. The DBacks let him go after last season and he signed with the Padres before spring training.  The Padres released him May 1 and the Astros signed him that day.  So far this year he’s thrown 13 1/3 innings in 13 games posting a 2.70 ERA / 0.675 WHIP allowing 2 home runs while striking out 19 and walking 2. His right left splits are below.

Split PA AB R H HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs LHB 27 26 3 3 1 1 9 .115 .148 .231 .379
vs RHB 23 22 3 4 1 1 10 .182 .217 .409 .626
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/10/2014.

In spite of the good run the Astros are on it’s likely these guys are available. What is in question is whether they have a need for Floyd.

Cubs

The Cubbies are rebuilding – still – and have two lefties in the pen, James Russell and Wesley Wright. Russell was born and raised a Cub and for the last four seasons has been a stalwart in their pen. Over that times he’s pitched to a 3.87 ERA / 1.307 WHIP in 252 2/3 innings. This season he sits at a 3.00 ERA / 1.333 WHIP in 15 innings over 23 games. This year he has R/L split as you can see below.

Split PA R H HR BB SO SO/W BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHB 30 4 5 0 4 6 1.50 .217 .345 .261 .606
vs LHB 36 6 8 2 3 8 2.67 .250 .314 .469 .783
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/10/2014.

His career numbers don’t show that but they aren’t exactly eye watering and he isn’t a strikeout pitcher making him less than a top priority.

Wright (29) was drafted by the Dodgers in 2003 then taken from them in the 2007 Rule 5 draft. In August last year the Rays purchased his contract from the Astros then released him in December. He signed with the Cubs later that month. This year he’s appeared in 22 games throwing 19 innings at a 2.84 ERA /1.158 WHIP striking out 15 and walking 6. Wright has a horrible R/L split this year.

Split PA R H HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHB 50 5 7 1 5 7 .163 .265 .279 .544
vs LHB 31 4 9 0 1 8 .300 .323 .300 .623
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/10/2014.

His career numbers are better but not worthy of an investment.

Diamondbacks

We saw both of the D’Backs lefty specialists this weekend. Joe Thatcher and Oliver Perez. Both are 32  years old and qualify as journeymen. Thatcher is a mostly a LOOGY throwing only 17 2/3 innings in his 28 appearances while posting a 3.06 ERA / 1.358 WHIP striking out 19 and walking 3. His splits look like this.

Split PA R H HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHB 34 5 10 1 3 5 .345 .424 .483 .907
vs LHB 45 6 11 2 0 14 .256 .267 .442 .709
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/10/2014.

Perez salvaged a career that looked over his future by becoming a lefty specialist after his career as a starter spiraled down the toilet. As a reliever he’s been pretty good pitching to a 3.16 ERA / 1.367 WHIP in 82.2 innings over 94 appearances as a Mariner.  This season he’s come out of the pen 28 times for 24 IP posting a 2.63 ERA / 1.125 WHIP striking out 23 and walking 8. Perez has a huge reverse split this season and that’s generally been true his whole career.

Split PA R H HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHB 57 5 8 0 6 12 .167 .286 .229 .515
vs LHB 45 6 11 1 2 11 .262 .311 .381 .692
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/10/2014.

Rangers

The Rangers won’t admit it but they’re done; too many injuries to key players and pitchers. The name that jumps out at me from the Rangers pen is Neil Cotts. The 34 year old lefty is a journeyman as well and had a great season in Texas last year; this year not so much. He’s pitching to a 3.96 ERA and a 1.440 WHIP in 25 innings over 29 games. His splits this year are equally bad. and it appears he’s past his best.

Split PA R H HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHB 67 5 16 0 5 17 .267 .333 .350 .683
vs LHB 44 7 11 1 4 11 .282 .349 .462 .810
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/10/2014.

The Rangers do have other lefties but their numbers are worse than Cotts’.

Rays

I think the Rays are done, their rotation save Price is injured and he isn’t as sharp as he once was. Their lineup is beat up as well and not scoring. The lefty to covet in their pen is Jake McGee. McGee is 27 and a home grown Ray who is arbitration eligible for the first time next season. His 2011 season saw his ERA climb to 4.50 and his WHIP sit at 1.500. He appeared to fix that in 2012 when he posted a 1.95 / 0.795 line in 71 appearances. In 2013 his ERA climbed back to 4.02 but his WHIP stabilized at 1.181. This year he’s back to the low ERA (1.59) and WHIP (0.776) mix. He consistently strikes out more than a man an inning and doesn’t walk many. Since he joined the Rays in Tampa his only season below 10.5K/9 was 2011 when it sat at 8.7. He has a reverse split as well but considering how many he strikes out it isn’t an issue.

.

Split PA AB R H HR BB SO SO/W BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHB 67 62 4 9 0 4 21 5.25 .145 .209 .161 .370
vs LHB 37 34 2 7 0 2 12 6.00 .206 .250 .265 .515
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/10/2014.

McGee costs the Rays nothing, is under team control for three more years and has been effective for them in the pen. The Rays will trade if they see it as a net gain but I don’t see how Floyd alone does that for them

The thing that strikes me about all of these options and there may be more – Cleveland for example – Floyd’s value relative to the return is questionable. You might get a journeyman for him – the DBacks and Rangers are desperate for starting pitching – and dump the salary but is that an improvement or a salary dump? But what if it’s not just Floyd?

Trade Package?

The best option would be to put together a package including Floyd and and others to address more than one issue. For example, could we package Tyler Pastornichy with Floyd and another prospect/player for McGee and Ben Zobrist? Zobrist is a good hitter who can play almost anywhere. The idea that the Braves will go get Martin Prado back is a fantasy but  Zobrist will be available and does what Prado did better. He is 34 but we don’t need him to play every day and he makes us better. That kind of deal makes a lot of sense which of course means it isn’t likely to happen.

That’s A Wrap

The idea of trading a starting pitcher straight up for a lefty specialist just doesn’t make sense. If they could make a package deal for solid reliever and an impact player like Zobrist it would not only strengthen the pen but also give Fredi Gonzalez a greater chance of success. The team is struggling and the roster needs to be adjusted;but recent contracts leave little room for maneuver. Putting together a trade of a prospect and a current 25 man player or two is the only way to accomplish that. Unless of course you know another way

Looking for the best deals on tickets for all games on the Braves schedule?

Tags: Atlanta Braves Featured Popular

  • Ryan Cothran

    The one idea I could see floated around as far as trades that wasn’t really discussed would be two clubs in contention, both trading from strength. The Pirates come to mind as they have a left-handed abundance and are in need of starting pitching. A straight up trade might not suffice but we could ask for a bench upgrade, such as Josh Harrison in the packaged deal.

    • fireboss

      The Bucs have two bullpen lefties;Tony Watson, and Justin Wilson. Watson appears to be the best; 29 innings in 29 games. 0.93 ERA (FIP 2.14) / 1.034 WHIP, 35 K, 8 walks and 1 homer facing 116 hitters for an ERA+ of 382. He has consistently good L/R splits and like lefties who come in to face a lefty then sees a righty a career reverse split that’s very good both ways. He’s not arb eligible until next year.
      Wilson is the opposite performance wise, this year anyway. He’s been in 27 games thrown 24 1/3 innings with a 4.44 ERA (2.75 FIP)/ 1.397 WHIP. He’s struck out 25 but walked 13 without a homer while facing 106 hitters giving him an ERA+ of 80. His career splits are good with a similar reverse split to Watson over his two and a bit years. This season he handling righties well enough – .180/.306/.254/.551 – however lefties are hitting him at a .323/.382/.419/.802 clip. For me that removes him as an option since Avilan’s lefty split is a lot better.
      The question is why would the Bucs trade for a short term starter like Floyd? He’s Charlie Morton MK II in a rotation that is looking like it will be Litiano, Cole, Locke, Morton, Volquez. As tight as they are financially adding the remainder of Floyd’s money is only a fit if they can dump Volquez (essentially a wash $$ wise) and I can’t see anyone taking him off their hands that wouldn’t rather have Floyd.
      The best fit on paper seems to be Tampa who have starters returning next year but need to finish this one ouit with some respectability. We would have to create roster space and add some $$ to convince them this was within their 2% improvement rule. They are in need of an outfielder with Myers down so Schafer would be a fit. As I proposed would benefit from adding Zobrist’s bat and flexibility and he could do what Schafer does. They would want an infield replacement for second and Pena could give them that and some ability to fill in at multiple spots that they lose with Zobbrist. If we could convince them that Dan would be a RH DH option and give them all but the league minimum that would help too by getting him out of the way and out of teh conversation; in a pinch the Rays could teach him to play first. That’s a stretch I know but with Schafer and Pena optionally gone at the end of the year (I think they’d resign Pena) Dan would be just the kiond of throw in Madden has been able to make work.
      For us Zobrist replaces both roster guys we dump allowing us to bring up a Cunningham, Terdoslavich (though he isn’t hitting a lick right now) or even Goslin again. And iof course Dan’s specter is gone.
      It makes too much sense to me for it to be considered by anyone able to act on it of course.
      Like MLBTR who wrote about it earlier today I have a hard time seeing any of the possible partners mentioned wanting to give up a piece a lot of teams might give more for in return for a 3 month rental on a back of the rotation starter

      • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

        Well, if Schafer went to Tampa, then that answers my ‘where would Zo play?’ question. Though honestly, Gosselin (he’s hitting extremely well) could probably do exactly what you’d envision for Zobrist.

        Re: the 3 month rental problem – that’s why I think a 3-way deal makes great sense.

        • fireboss

          Gosselin isn’t nearly as versatile as Zobrist, Left, Right, SS, 2nd, 3rd and 1st. The three month rental is the issue. MLBTR said perfectly.
          “. . . Indeed, it seems like a rather unlikely outcome for Atlanta to flip a starter for relief help. Most hypothetical trade partners that would be willing to part with a quality reliever would presumably not be interested in adding a veteran on an expiring contract.”

          The only way this works is Floyd as part of a package whether it’s to the Rangers, Rays, or someone else. Contenders all need bullpen depth as badly as we do. Frankly I’d try a rookie in that spot even if he’s right handed. The problem the B raves have is no room at the inn. No one with options left to send down except Hale and Floyd/Harang breathing air we need for someone else to get woody into the lineup. If one of the veterans stumbles badly – Harang is the prime candidate but he’s been fooling us all year- they will simply DFA him and bring up Wood.

          Just to clarify something. Zobrist is a superb option but the isn’t the guy I’d want most. I was making the case that he’s the mind of guy we need in the lineup and the one that could be had.

          • Ryan Cothran

            The “only” word being tossed around is really tiresome. These are trades that haven’t happened. Everyone’s guessing at this point.

      • Ryan Cothran

        The Bucs would trade for a short-term starter the same reason we would trade for a short-term LOOGY: need. Their top-3 have been strong, but drops off from there. While they only have 2 lefties in the ‘pen, they have 2 lefty starters who haven’t pitched well in their role. Both Locke and Liriano could be available and used out of the bullpen, or moved to the bullpen should they trade a lefty.

        And the Bucs were just a quick example that I researched, not necessarily the best matchup. However, I do think there are teams out there, such as the Rays, who could meet our needs, and ours theirs.

        Edit: Ben Zobrist would be an awesome supersub and his BABIP is quite low this year. However, the Rays aren’t necessarily a sell-low team.

        • fireboss

          The Bucs would only do that if they thought they had a chance to win and Floyd was going to be the difference. The Brewers and Cards are going to stay at the top of the division and Floyd isn’t enough of a difference maker to change that. Jeff Locke is their only current lefty starter who hasn’t started much. He had a bad first outing -left injured as I recall but maybe not – and hadn’t started until last weekend. Against the Brewers three days ago he went 7 innings gave up 1 run and only walked one. Liriano is the other lefty starter remaining they DFA’d Wandy last month. The only “contender” who might benefit form Floyd is as Alan says the Yankees or possibly the Red Sox and they both need bullpen help as well so unless we there’s a 3 way somehow I can’t see them in the mix.

          • Ryan Cothran

            The Pirates are 3 games out of the 2nd Wild Card. With that goofy thing, anyone at or near .500 is still in competition.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    Ryan’s on the right track, though my thought is that this might require a three-way deal:
    - Atlanta needing relief help
    - Another contender needing a starter (there’s a line forming here)
    - A non-contender needing prospects; having the relievers in hand

    Example: The Cubs’ #1 goal is to get value for Samardjiakaza (er, ‘Shark’). But as you mentioned, Fred, they could be the conduit for the reliever, too (I’d almost like to see Arodys Vizzy back, btw). The recipient of the pitcher from Atlanta would provide 2 prospects: one to ATL, one to CHC. ATL gets a reliever from CHC.

    Prime Candidates for getting Floyd/Harang: Toronto, Baltimore, Royals, Indians, Yankees.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    One more thing: I know you want Zobrist… but where would he play? Or maybe a better question: who would he replace? He’s not going to outplay La Stella… but I’m not convinced that replacing Pena is a good move.

    Best chance: release Uggla and get Zobrist for the bench… but that’s an expensive ‘get’ for a bench player (and I’m not referring to the payoff for Uggla – it’s the trade cost). Zobrist’s contract, btw, is for $7m this year; option for $7.5m next. I just don’t think ATL goes there.

    • Brandon_Woodworth

      Zobrist > La Stella all day of the week. Doesn’t matter though, Zobrist isn’t going to be traded. Pipe dream.

      • fireboss

        Zobrist will be traded. Not to us of course but he will move this summer. Rays are our his salary is 4th highest on the team (counting what they’re paying Heath Bell to bounce around DFA Limbo and he’ll be turning 34. His trade value is at the top now so perhaps the Giants, Tigers or Yankees find a way to get him. The Tigers in particular are a great fit not that they have much in the prospect area to give. Barring something untoward he’ll be traded at or before the deadline.

        • Brandon_Woodworth

          Every team in baseball could have used Price, who was as good as traded.

          • fireboss

            and would have been had they received the right offer, likely will be this year. Zobrist isn’t that expensive in terms of prospects and will be traded

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            Regardless of his 2014 performance, I think the Rays overplayed their hand. Now what will they get?

          • fireboss

            They wanted too much for Price two seasons ago then didn’t trade him, were in the race last season and wanted too much again this winter and with his velocity dropping he won’t get as much as he might have but he’s still get a couple of prospect plus a player. Zobrist wasn’t on the block before but the Rays offense crashed and burned this season and with no minor league bats to help they’ll look for at least a major league ready bat and a mid level prospect or two; he’s worth that. They need to get younger.

    • fireboss

      I know what his contract is but if you dump Floyd it’s a small change. Next year he replaces well almost any bench player except the catcher, Zobrist is a better player than Pena at ll positions and a better more consistent hitter. He wouldn’t have to play every day but when CJ is slumping or Justin gets hurt or anyone except the catcher needs a day Zobrist can do it. He is also a better bet to deliver off the bench

      I don;t think they go there either unless they really want to fix things. The way the contracts are structured it has to be this kind of trade for someone if you want to balance the roster. of course if strikeouts and all or nothing suits them they won’t budge until this winter. If then

  • JASON TODD BARBER

    why on earth would the braves trade a starter when they can add either trevor cahill,who was recently designated for assignment by the diamondbacks or sign jose veras who was just outright released by the cubs,not to mention there are more than half a dozen free agent relief pitchers who could most defintely upgrade the braves bullpen significantly..does the name tommy hanson ring a bell anyone or what about heath bell?

    • fireboss

      It’s not that they particularly want to trade starting pitching, they
      just have little choice. The 25 man roster is full and only David Hale, Andrelton Simmons, Shae Simmons, and Evan Gattis have minor league options remaining. Veteran players can’t simply be sent to the
      minors at will or Uggla would be there. They have to agree to go down and they have to pass through waivers, If
      they pass through waivers and don’t agree they are released. If they
      agree they “accept assignment’ like Cahill, The Braves would like to keep the guys I listed up. Eventually at least one has to go down when Woody returns; that’s likely Hale.
      With Woody back presumably in the rotation they would move Harang or Floyd to the pen to become spot starter and mop up man because neither has never worked from the pen regularly or had success when they did, Harang has six relief appearances, the last 2 in 2010 when he posted a 9.00 ERA 2.667 WHIP. Floyd has only 12 relief appearances the latest in 2010 when he too pitched to a 4.00 ERA but his WHIP was only 2.000. Now the need is for a left handed reliever with the roster full and no one to demote except possibly Shae Simmons but he’s been so good the replacement needs to be more than a LOOGY.
      You mention the waivered / released pitchers. If a reliever is on waivers or DFA it’s because of poor performance or a roster log jamb. With lefty specialists in short supply a pitcher has to be pretty awful to land out there. The pitcher’s you mention in order are Cahill – he accepted assignment to the minor leagues. He could have been picked up by any club but that would be a trade and accepting the $17M he has coming to him through 2015. Since going to AZ he’s been awful and no one wants him.
      Jose Veras is right handed as well and is not an upgrade to anyone’s bullpen. He was released by the Cubs after posting an 8.10 ERA and 1.725 WHIP including 2 homers in 13 1/3 innings.
      Heath Bell hasn’t been good since he left San Diego posting ERA/Whip combos of 5.09/1.555, 4.11/1.371 and 7.27/1.826. With every challenging team needing bullpen arms right now, if Bell was any good he wouldn’t be twiddling his thumbs
      The Marlins released Henry Rodriguez because although he can throw 98 he has no idea where it’s headed. Like Bell, if he could pitch he’d have a job.
      Looking at the DFA tracker at MLBTR today there are two pitchers righty Wilton Lopez and lefty Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc has an ERA this season of 7.36 in an admittedly small sample. Last year for three teams it was 5.18 with a 1.603 WHIP.
      Even if there was a secret jewel out there the roster situation remains a problem, Let’s say we simply sign Joe Lefty; someone has to go down; who? Sure you could DFA Harang or Floyd but why do that if you can trade one of them? All of those combined are why trading is the likely answer if they can find a match.