(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien.)
Royals general manager Dayton Moore acknowledged Friday having a conversation with the Braves about potential trade match-ups but apparently the asking price was too steep.
The Kansas City star is reporting the Braves wanted top outfield prospect Wil Myers, as well as center fielder Lorenzo Cain for Jair Jurrjens and possibly Martin Prado, but the Royals are unlikely to part with Myers.
The talks appear to have stalled, but it’s clear the Braves are exploring the possibility of cutting payroll by trading arbitration eligible players who are approaching free agency like Prado and Jurrjens.
The Royals need starting pitching– their 4.82 starters’ ERA last season was second-to-last in the majors – and they have some payroll flexibility to dedicate to improving their staff. The Braves have an abundance of starting pitching and are looking to shed payroll so they can spend on offensive upgrade in the outfield and/or shortstop. Jurrjens and Prado are each likely to make around $5 million in arbitration.
Moore was the Braves farm director when Prado was coming up through the minors and Moore has always had great respect for Prado’s work ethic and attitude. But after the injury-plagued seasons both Jurrjens (knee) and Prado (staph infection) had, there are question marks with both.
For the Braves, the asking price is high for Jurrjens, given both his track record and the risk on their end. Now that the Braves have traded Derek Lowe and cleared $5 million there, Tim Hudson and Jurrjens are their most veteran starters. The Braves don’t know how Tommy Hanson’s shoulder will hold up after he missed the better part of the last two months of the season. And the remaining candidates for the rotation – Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran - combined don’t have half as much service time as Jurrjens.
One insider I’ve talked to thinks Prado makes the most sense for the Braves to trade, given the value he could bring and given that he lacks power, which is what the Braves are looking to upgrade left field with.
For those of us who know and watch Prado every day, that’s a tough suggestion. He’s as good of a guy as there is, his teammates adore him, and he is a .300 hitter by every account except last year, when time missed for a staph infection and an uncharacteristic pull-happiness had him hitting a career-low .260.
If you ask me, Prado was the Braves most valuable player two years ago, when they made their last trip to the playoffs. He was an NL All-Star that same year. And when he’s right, isn’t he an ideal No. 2 hitter?
One thing that does seem true, though, is that Prado is in no man’s land right now. The Braves are looking to add punch in the corner outfield and aren’t going to trade Jason Heyward, given his youth, his upside and his price tag. So that leaves them looking to the other corner.
Prado was probably at his best playing second base but then the Braves signed Dan Uggla. If anything, with Chipper Jones back next year, he’d probably be in some kind of super utility role, splitting time between third, left field and the occasional second or first.
So what do you do?
To me it ultimately depends on how good a bump you get with that extra money. It has to be worth it. And that’s something only Braves GM Frank Wren and company have an idea about at this point.
When talking to Wren on Monday after the Braves traded Lowe, here’s what he said about where the team goes from here.
“We like the foundation of our team,” Wren said. “We may make some tweaks or we may make some bigger moves, just depending on what is out there and how it all falls over the course of the next couple months.”
Knowing Wren’s track record, you figure he’ll aim big. But we’ll see how it plays out.
Kimbrel’s the Players’ choice
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was named the National League’s outstanding rookie last night at the Players’ Choice awards. He also won the Sporting News rookie of the year. The big one – the Baseball Writers Association of America – will be announced on Monday, November 14.
This is one of those times, when I am actually glad the bosses don’t let me vote in the BBWAA awards anymore. That’s a tough choice between Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman. It’s hard to argue with a major league rookie record of 46 saves for Kimbrel, but then you look at how Freeman stacks up offensively.
Freeman finished third among NL rookies with a .282 batting average, first in homers (21), first in RBIs (76), second in multi-hit games (43), second in runs (67), first in hits (161), first in total bases (256), first in doubles (32), second in walks (53) and third in on-base percentage (.346) and third in slugging percentage (.448).
Braves Top 10 Prospects
I got my Baseball America Top 10 Prospects issue in the mail today. I know it was released earlier in the week online but for those who missed it, I’ll list the Braves Top 10 prospects and a sentence or two from the scouting report (sorry, ain’t typing out the whole thing):
1. RHP Julio Teheran: A lanky hurler who throws on an impressive downward plane, Teheran works low in the zone and also is capable of getting batters to chase high fastballs….Teheran’s change-up is nearly as good as his fastball, featuring outstanding depth and fade.
2. RHP Arodys Vizcaino: Vizcaino’s fastball sits 93-95 and touches 97. He also has sharp-breaking curveball that’s a plus pitch but he tends to fall in love with it too much.
3. RHP Randall Delgado: He has a smooth, quick delivery and does a good job of using the same arm speed with all of his pitches. Delgado tends to lose some deception when his arm action gets long.
4. SS Andrelton Simmons: He is a premier defender with a cannon for an arm and soft quick hands….An aggressive hitter, Simmons knows the strike zone but doesn’t walk much.
5. LHP Sean Gilmartin: He throws an 88-91 mp fastball with good life and a solid slider. His best pitch is a plus change-up and he knows how to set up hitters while mixing all of his offerings.
6. 3B Edward Salcedo: He has above-average power potential, thanks to his quick bat and smooth stroke. Tremendously raw when he signed, he showed a more advanced approach and greater knowledge of the strike zone in 2011.
7. SS Tyler Pastornicky: He has a good feel for hitting and makes consistent line-drive contact….He has above-average range at shortstop, and he could get more out of his average arm with a more consistent arm slot.
8. RHP Zeke Spruill: He found success by pounding the bottom of the strike zone with his sinking 91-94 mph fastball, pitching to contact and not worrying about strikeouts.
9. C Christian Bethancourt: He has soft hands, plus arm strength and a quick release that helped him throw out 38 percent of basestealers in 2011.He also possesses good hand-eye coordination, makes consistent contact and shows solid raw power.
10. 3B Brandon Drury: He excels at making contact – almost to a fault because he walked just six times in 63 games in 2011 – and does a nice job of using the entire field. He gets good carry on his hits because of the backspin he generates.