Braves may be forced to trade Vazquez

Javier Vazquez threw another gem Wednesday night in Houston.

Javier Vazquez threw another gem Wednesday night in Houston.

Of all the things that didn’t work out as planned for the Braves this season, we’ve known a for a while now that Javier Vazquez isn’t one of them. What we don’t know is: Where do they go from here?

Or maybe the better question is: Where does Vazquez go from here?

The ripple effect of the contracts the Braves gave pitchers Derek Lowe (four years, $60 million) and Kenshin Kawakami (three years, $23 million) is going to be felt this off-season. General manager Frank Wren has some options but he’s also somewhat painted into a corner. The chances of trading either Lowe or Kawakami are minimal because of the contracts. So that’s two starters. Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens are young and good and cheap. That’s two more starters. That leaves Vazquez and Tim Hudson for one spot in a five-man rotation.

See where we’re going with this?

Hudson has an expensive option at $12 million. But we also know that if he can come back next season as strong as he has shown in two recent starts, he’s one of the top pitchers on the staff. Vazquez is going into the final year of his contract at $11.5 million. If you’ve always wondered why his name keeps coming up in trade talks, that’s why. The Braves can’t keep everybody, not merely because of numbers but because of dollars. If you add Lowe, Kawakami, Hudson and Vazquez, that’s about $45.2 million for four pitchers, nearly half the team’s payroll (approximately $97 million).

These are the options:

1) Try to trade Lowe or Kawakami (Kawakami is more likely, and the Braves would have to pick up some of his payroll, which kind of defeats the purpose of the trade to begin with).

2) Move Kawakami to the bullpen. The problem is this doesn’t reduce payroll and it creates a $6.7 million pitcher middle reliever.

3) Release Hudson. And there possibly goes the ace of the staff.

4) Trade Vazquez. And there goes possibly the current ace of the staff. (Check out the numbers below.)

Not easy, is it? This problem wouldn’t exist if not for the Lowe’s and Kawakami’s contracts, but now the Braves will have to deal with it.

No poll on this. I figured everybody would vote, “Trade Kawakami,” and I just don’t know how realistic that is. So give me your thoughts.

Braves starters this season

Pitcher        GS  W-L   ERA  IP    BB  KO

Javier Vazquez 28  12-9 3.06  188.1  40  208

Jair Jurrjens  29  10-10 2.93  178.0 64  126

Derek Lowe     29  13-9  4.36  171.1  52  92

Kenshin Kawakami 27 7-11 4.02  145.2  55  99

Tommy Hanson     16  9-3 3.07  93.2   36  78

Kris Medlen      4   3-5 4.68  57.2   28  67

Jo-Jo Reyes      5   0-2  7.00  27   13   21

Tim Hudson      2    1-0   2.19 12.1  4   11

334 comments Add your comment

Jamaaliver

September 9th, 2009
12:10 pm

Raider Fan

September 9th, 2009
12:19 pm

SECOND! Better than First.

Huddiesout

September 9th, 2009
12:20 pm

As great as Huddie has been lately, let’s remember that his first few years in the Braves rotation were a huge disappointment. Vazquez is a consistent winner, with a healthy arm. For those reasons, you gotta keep Javy and bid good-bye to Huddie!

Bob in SF

September 9th, 2009
12:22 pm

Trade Vazquez while his value is high; this is a career year for him and he has never been considered a big game pitcher.

Jeff Schultz

September 9th, 2009
12:24 pm

Hey everybody. I’m at my Fantasy League draft. Unfortunately had the eighth (of 12) pick. Took Matt Forte. Stafford still on the board.

Toots

September 9th, 2009
12:25 pm

Trading Vazquez is a thought too terrible to entertain. I will do what I imagine the GM is doing: putting my hands over my ears, closing my eyes and singing “LALALALALA!”

Alonso

September 9th, 2009
12:26 pm

Eat some of Lowe’s contract and trade him. That seems like the best option.

Myers

September 9th, 2009
12:27 pm

This has got to be a joke on who to trade? It is a no-brainer that Lowe needs to go!

Hot Sauce

September 9th, 2009
12:27 pm

Trade Javy before the end of the season. May get some value for him. He has been great but it’s a business. Go Jackets. Dave sucks.

ashman

September 9th, 2009
12:29 pm

Trade Hudson for a power hitting third baseman!

Hot Sauce

September 9th, 2009
12:29 pm

I agree Lowe needs to go (never wanted him). However, his contract may be too high to move. Let’s hope he learns a new game next year.

MatthewH

September 9th, 2009
12:30 pm

Why not get rid of Lowe? His salary per year is greater than KK and while he does have a winning record, I’m not sure he’s worth all that. Trade him now while he still has some value. Trading KK won’t get you anything. Package Lowe and GA for a left-fielder that won’t stand around and a minor leaguer. Problem solved.

smartguy

September 9th, 2009
12:30 pm

FIRE MIKE WOODSON!

roger dyals

September 9th, 2009
12:32 pm

The Braves would be studpid to get rid of Vazquez but if they do it will fall right in line with several other blunders they have made and seem to continue to make.

Nick

September 9th, 2009
12:32 pm

We’ve released all our other previous greats, why not continue the trend with Tim Hudson. I’d hate to see him go, or any of them (except Lowe or Kawakami) for that matter. The truth is, Lowe & Kawakami are both way over payed. I think trading Kawakami & picking up part of his contract will hurt next season, but will be best for the long run, and for our rotation. Anybody else being payed more than they should be based on their play as of late? Larry Wayne.

coach joe

September 9th, 2009
12:32 pm

Trade KK or don’t re-sign Hudson. Vazquez is a stud..keep him he likes it in Atlanta. Our starting ptiching is not the problem..

roger dyals

September 9th, 2009
12:34 pm

Enter your comments here

Michael

September 9th, 2009
12:35 pm

It does look like trading Vazquez is the best of bad solutions. Maybe see what Lowe would get if you pick up a portion of his salary, but that’s money for nothing unless you get some dynamite hitter in return. It’s obvious that the Braves must bolster the lineup to contend. Just look at the batting averages of the starting lineup — barely anybody is hitting .300. They need a big stick in the middle and some better averages pretty much anywhere. Good luck, Frank.

Yip

September 9th, 2009
12:36 pm

Release Greg Norton, trade Kawakami and eat some $$$ (he only has two years left), re-sign Vasquez, release Greg Norton, pick up Hudson’s option, force Bobby Cox to retire, convert Kelly Johnson to ball boy and think about releasing Greg Norton.

AWJ

September 9th, 2009
12:36 pm

I vote for trade Kawakami (only because I think Lowe is untradeable. If not trade him first), but that is eaiser said than done. I think the big question mark is what they plan to do with Vazquez when his contract runs out. If they plan on re-signing him to a 3 or 4 year deal, then let huddy walk. If they plan to not resign Vazquez, then trade him now and pick up Hudson’s option. There is also the option of letting Huddy walk and not re-sign Vazquez after next year(saves about $23 million/year) to make roon for Medlen if they believe he is a major league starter….

roger dyals

September 9th, 2009
12:36 pm

The Braves would be making a large mistake to get rid of Vazquez but it would be in line with all the blunders the Braves have made in the past and will probaly continue to make.

Wes

September 9th, 2009
12:37 pm

Trading Vazquez would definitely be a bone-head move on the Braves part. He’s been high up on the most strikeouts by a NL pitcher list all season long, and has 12 wins (he deserves more when you consider his performances this season). So… move Kawakami to the bullpen (make him the main relief pitcher and/or closer) and keep Vazquez.

And bring in Jason Heyward from triple A to help the Braves’ offensive struggles.

bebann

September 9th, 2009
12:40 pm

Let Hudson walk and keep Vazquez. Of course if they can trade KK without absorbing to much of his salary then keeping Hudson, even with the much higher cost, would be the best option.

Kevrock/Smarty Jones

September 9th, 2009
12:41 pm

Trade Huddy and KK. Chipper needs to go too. Chipper take one for the team and go to a winner and get another ring. He won’t get one with the Braves.

mudcat

September 9th, 2009
12:42 pm

I don’t agree with your premise that there is no market for a quality starter such as Kawakami for 6.7 mil. a year. There are probably at least a few clubs that would have interest for a starter with a low ERA who can give you consistant quality starts at that price. It would depend on what Wren demands in return. Trading Lowe with his fat contract isn’t going to happen. See what the market is for Hudson and Vazquez in the future and base your decision on that appraisal. JJ and Hanson are our aces of the future. If I had to make a decision right now I would thank Hudson and wish him the best with his next team.

Chuck James

September 9th, 2009
12:43 pm

Sign me! I’m still available!

Ryan in TN

September 9th, 2009
12:44 pm

Trading Kawakami makes the most sense. The Braves may have to eat half of the salary but in the end it is better than losing Vasquez.

ChurchMan

September 9th, 2009
12:44 pm

The “In” thing these days is eating contracts, maybe time for the Braves to jump on that. You’d hate to lose a top 3 guy because you’re paying a ton for a #5.

Trade Lowe/KK and cash, maybe get some type of a player in return as well.

Barker

September 9th, 2009
12:45 pm

Jeff, serious question here. Is Lance Niekro still with the organization? If so, any word on how/if he’s progressing with the knuckler?

mexican-brave

September 9th, 2009
12:45 pm

2010 proposed rotation, make your comments please:

1 – javy
2 – jj
3 – tommy
4 – lowe
5 – kk

i’m including lowe and kk because as many of you have said, their contracts are hard to move

Del

September 9th, 2009
12:46 pm

KIP

What is there to think about re releasing Mr Norton?

ga_tech_92@yahoo.com

September 9th, 2009
12:49 pm

Big time organizations would pony up and keep everyone.

dylan

September 9th, 2009
12:49 pm

trade vasquez for crawford and re sign gonzo call up heyward release kelly and church
lineup
1.crawford
2.mclouth
3.jones
4.mccann
5.heyward
6.diaz.
7.prado
8.escobar

piching
hudson
hanson
jurrjens
medlen
lowe
resign hudson and add a closer

mexican-brave

September 9th, 2009
12:49 pm

is garret anderson leaving after this season? hope so. did he sign a 1 year deal?

Ann Clark

September 9th, 2009
12:49 pm

Certainly don’t release Hudson or Vasquez! Don’t we have some other choices in the lower leagues other Hanson! Not a bad problem to have!

dylan

September 9th, 2009
12:50 pm

and sign laroche forgot him

rtrafford

September 9th, 2009
12:52 pm

I think there will be a demand for both Lowe and Kawakami on the market this winter. I also think both Hudson and Vaz will extend for less money to stay in Atlanta. I would look to move Lowe first, for obvious financial reasons. Kawi is a very good MOR/BOR starter singed to a very good contract for 2010-11.

Toby Cash

September 9th, 2009
12:53 pm

Lowe and Kawakami would look great in another teams’ uniform.

Braves Grrrl

September 9th, 2009
12:55 pm

Trade Javy? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

Ann Clark

September 9th, 2009
12:56 pm

What about trading Anderson, Church, Norton, and Johnson!

mexican-brave

September 9th, 2009
12:56 pm

i’m with you braves girl,,don’t trade javy…by the way, how young are u braves grrrl?

Sam

September 9th, 2009
12:56 pm

Trading (by far and away) our best pitcher……unbelieveable. We have descended into a hopeless duration of mediocrity.

GREGNORTON

September 9th, 2009
12:57 pm

I love it here! No matter how much I suck(and I really do suck!), my manager keeps sending me to the plate so I can swing and miss the ball by two feet! What a great life! And they pay me big bucks to do it!

Matt in Athens

September 9th, 2009
12:58 pm

This is a great problem for the Braves to have. Just as Boston how quickly a starting pitching surplus can turn into a deficit. But I’d still trade Javy in the offseason. As constituted now, the Braves will need help at 1B, 2B, OF and the bullpen next season. Re-signing LaRoche solves one problem, and trading Javy to someone like Texas, one of the L.A. teams, or somewhere else could provide a useful player or two. With salaries somewhat comparable, I’d pick Hudson over Vazquez ten times out of ten. He’s had a more consistent record over the last five to six years (with the exception of the last year due to TJ surgery). Having a rotation of Jurrjens, Hudson, Lowe, Hanson, and Kawakami for a full season will keep the Braves in the playoff hunt. And if the Braves had had McLouth, Church, and Prado in the lineup earlier this season instead of Schafer, Francoeur and KJ creating three sure outs in the lineup, they’d be right there with the Rockies (and maybe the Phillies). Minor upgrades at 2B and OF could make this team a legitimate pennant contender next year.

jfreak13713

September 9th, 2009
1:01 pm

Based on numbers alone I’d say take a hit on Lowe’s salary and trade him but how much of a hit would probably be the key factor. When you consider the Braves know they will have to add a big bat my guess is they will trade Vazquez and hope Lowe has a better year next year? Lowe wouldn’t be a bad number three guy if we were paying him like a number 1 guy!

By the way Vazquez spoke in front of about 10,000 after the game this past Sunday and did a wonderful job. He spoke of his faith in Christ and his upbring that helped make the man he is today. Vazquez is a good man and the kind of guy you’d spend more money on just to keep around. Great Year but a better man!

Andy Rutledge

September 9th, 2009
1:04 pm

Bat Escobar 8th? Have you looked at any of the stats this year? Any of them??

Mac

September 9th, 2009
1:04 pm

Just another reason the Kawakami deal was stupid. Bradley, for some reason is in love with the guy, but he’s too expensive for what he is. If Vazquez is the odd man out, they’d better get a lot for him. He’s worth a lot. To me, he’s not arguably the ace, he definitely has been.

The Anti Bug LIAR

September 9th, 2009
1:05 pm

Barker, as much as I detest him as a human being, the person to ask about Lance Niekro and his status is Bill Shanks (the self-professes Braves Farm System expert). Email him on his web site. He should get back to you pretty fast. He’s even snarkier than Schultz and Kincade, so be careful how you approach him. he can be extraordinarily snide. Good luck…
http://braves.scout.com/.

DM

September 9th, 2009
1:05 pm

If the Braves had any brains they would find a way to keep Vazquez. How can we be sure Hudson is ready to come back for an entire season when he’s only pitched 2 games?

Braves Grrrl

September 9th, 2009
1:07 pm

mexican-brave, I am 14. Interested?