There has been a whole lot of talk about the Atlanta Braves number 1 prospect…
Jose Peraza, and rightfully so. As our own Andrew Snyder speculated in his piece yesterday and Atlanta Braves’ beatwriter Mark Bowman flat-out stated in an article late last night, if Andrelton Simmons goes on the DL, Peraza’s time might be now. While no one wants to see the best defensive shortstop in the game go on the DL (and it sounds like there was a lot of improvement last night according to article linked), from a fan’s perspective, it’s good to know the Braves aren’t afraid to make the obvious bold move and promote Peraza if necessary. Peraza could serve as the starting SS for the next 10 days, and if he plays well, could take hold of the super-sub spot for the rest of the 2014 year. However, that doesn’t really answer the hard question surrounding Jose Peraza.
What will the Atlanta Braves do with Jose Peraza in 2015?
With a thin Minor-League system and little to no financial flexibility, the Braves cannot afford to trade their most exciting position prospect in years, and the only one true lead-off hitter the Braves have produced since Rafael Furcal. However, if you look around the horn, the Braves are set in the infield with Chris Johnson, Andrelton Simmons, and Tommy La Stella, all either under team control or signed to a contract for at least the next 3 years. Let’s explore what options the Braves could take with Peraza:
1. Trade Tommy La Stella- I really do not like this idea but realize it could happen. In my opinion, La Stella provides serious balance to a lineup that features powerful right-handed bats and a whole lot of strikeouts. His defense has been above-average according to Fangraphs and I’ll have to say he’s passed the eye test as well. My vote on this option: NO.
2. Trade Chris Johnson- signed to a 3-year/23.5 million dollar extension that begins next year, CJ has not lived up to his 2013 numbers, although he’s hit fairly well over the last 51 games with a .775 OPS. There are a few problem’s with Johnson’s game:
A. While he’s shown defensive improvements over the last 2 years, he’s still a below-average defender according to advanced metrics.
B. His success relies on an abnormally large BABIP as can be seen by analyzing his first 59 games (.594 OPS and .329 BABIP) compared to his last 51 games (.775 OPS and .382 BABIP).
C. He’s painfully slow on the bases.
While Peraza’s success, just like CJ’s, also relies heavily on a high BABIP, Peraza’s defense and speed are plus-plus and will not slump. While this option might not even be an option for the Braves due to Peraza never playing 3b in the Minors, it’s certainly one they should think about exploring as it would be nice to have that 23.5 million back in the bank and a wickedly good defense to boot. My vote on this option: Yes.
3. Make Jose Peraza the super-utility player providing equal rest all over the field. Peraza has been deemed a player that could play shortstop in the Majors, due to his speed, average to above-average arm, quick hands, and above-average range. These types of players are considered by most to be the kind that can essentially move anywhere on the diamond and play any position well. The Braves acquired a super-sub at the trade deadline in Emilio Bonifacio and, for years, regularly carried super-subs in Omar Infante and Martin Prado. While Ramiro Pena was pegged to be that guy after a 2013 breakout season, that experiment has faceplanted. Looking back, both Infante and Prado received a whole lot of ABs in super-sub roles and eventually landed starting gigs either by default due to injury, or flat out earning it. Looking across the board, the Braves could have really used an offensively-productive super-sub to give rest to the regulars, but there was no one on the bench that stepped up in that regards. The super-sub, when used right, keeps everyone fresh and deepens the bench for in-game matchups. If used around the horn at 7 positions (2b, SS, 3b, LF, CF, RF, 1b), Peraza could ultimately see 400-450 plate appearances in a year and give each player regular rest. While this might take added positional flexibility for the current players (Chris Johnson moving to 1b when Freeman sits, making way for Peraza at 3rd), the value of the super-sub that doesn’t have a major drop-off in offensive ability, is invaluable.
Ben Zobrist is the first person that comes to mind for most when talking about a super-sub. In 2009, Zobrist put up an astonishing 8.5 WAR playing 329 innings in RF, 46.2 innings in CF, 38 innings in LF, 62 innings at SS, 5.2 innings at 3b, 714 innings at 2b, and 13 innings at 1b. The next year, he still played all positions, but his more stable position changed from 2b to RF, 2011? Back to 2b. 2012? Spread out everywhere again. 2013? Majority at 2b. Currently, he’s playing 3-4 positions for the Rays spread pretty evenly, and his flexibility has become unmatched around baseball. The Braves could have that player in Jose Peraza. My vote on this option: Yes.
4. Trade Andrelton Simmons- BLASPHEMY! My vote: H-E-double hockey sticks NO!
5. Keep Peraza in the Minors- Many think that Peraza needs more time to develop patience at the plate and I can’t disagree with that line of thought. However I think his presence in the leadoff position could really do wonders for this club. My vote on this option: No.
So, there you have it. I do realize that I have 2 votes yes, and frankly I’d be completely fine with either, although I think I might be partial to the super-sub idea as I think our everyday players could use the rest. Let’s hear it, you guys? What do you all think should be done with Jose Peraza?