Will Braves trade Jurrjens to strengthen outfield?

Giving up this home run to Washington pitcher Livan Hernandez in September didn't help Jair Jurrjens' cause any. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Giving up this home run to Washington pitcher Livan Hernandez in September was one of Jair Jurrjens' lowlights.

Braves general manager Frank Wren went into the winter last offseason determined to trade a starting pitcher in hopes of acquiring some help for the Braves’ offensively-challenged lineup. The result was the oft-lampooned Javier Vazquez-for-Melky Cabrera trade.

The only difference this winter is the Braves are coming off a postseason berth — so maybe they won’t appear quite as desperate. But an unpopular move could be forthcoming: Are you ready to say goodbye to Jair Jurrjens?

I know — dealing Jurrjens seems unfathomable. Why would Wren trade his team’s young, inexpensive and talented starting pitcher? Simple: If he doesn’t, it’s going to significantly limit his options this winter and certainly would force him to get real creative with the team’s budget.

Would you favor trading Jair Jurrjens to acquire starting outfielder?

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♦ 1.) The Braves’ payroll this season was approximately $84 million. It’s not expected to increase much, if at all. Owner Liberty Media’s Board of Directors, as you might’ve noticed, did not arrange a field trip to Turner Field for the postseason. Nobody handed out red foam tomahawks at stockholders’ meetings. In short, they don’t care. So don’t expect the club to be free to pursue a mega-dollar free agent like Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford.

♦ 2.) Chipper Jones’ intention to hold off on retirement and rehab from a major knee surgery — he seems more determined than ever to come back and is a big fan of new manager Fredi Gonzalez — means his $13 million salary will remain on the books. Closer Billy Wagner ($7 million) falls off the payroll. So does big-money late-season acquisition Derrek Lee ($13 million, of which the Braves paid only a fraction).

But here comes the painful part:  The Braves still have 2011 obligations to outfielder Nate McLouth ($6.5 million) and pitcher Kenshin Kawakami ($6.67 million) — both of whom were demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett during the season.

♦ 3.) The top three starters in the rotation are Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and Derek Lowe. Lowe finished the season strong and was outstanding in two postseason starts (three earned runs, 14 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings, despite two losses). He is perceived as far more important to the success of this team than he was after last season. Also, even if the Braves wanted to move Lowe, the fact he is owed $30 million over the next two years makes that possibility unlikely.

♦ 4.) Unless Wren is willing to deal touted prospects, something he’s generally been averse to, that means he’ll either have to shop for low-budget free agents again or deal from his position of strength: starting pitching. Jurrjens is only 24 but his  long-term future in Atlanta is uncertain, given that his agent is Scott Boras.  Jurrjens also struggled this season with a hamstring and knee injuries. He dropped from 34 starts, 25 quality starts (allowing three or fewer earned runs in six or more innings), a 14-10 record and a 2.60 ERA in 2009 to 20 starts, 10 quality starts, 7-6 and a 4.64 ERA this season.

But of all the Braves’ tradable assets, Jurrjens is the most likely to fetch something decent in return. It’s either that or fill available starting jobs in left and center field on the cheap again.

After Hudson, Hanson and Lowe, the Braves’ next two spots would go to some combination of Kawakami (if he is kept and not paid to walk away), Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and a low-budget free agent (back-end-of-the-rotation starters aren’t difficult to find). Kris Medlen will miss most of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Wren obviously moved quickly with his new managerial hire. But that move was kind of a slam dunk: Fredi Gonzalez was unemployed and living in Marietta. The roster fix won’t be as easy — and somebody may have to leave.

(I’ll leave you with this: Columbus, Ga., native and St. Louis center field Colby Rasmus clashed this season with manager Tony LaRussa and requested a trade two months ago. Would you be willing to part with Jurrjens if he was part of a Rasmus trade, or do you think the Braves can do better than Rasmus? And yes: I’m just throwing this against the wall. Below are all the pitchers who started games for the Braves this season, listed in order of quality starts.)

Pitcher                QS  (GS)   W-L    ERA     K     BB
Tim Hudson             25  (34)   17-9   2.83    139   74
Tommy Hanson           19  (34)   10-11  3.33    173   56
Derek Lowe             15  (33)   16-12  4.00    136   61
Jair Jurrjens          10  (20)   7-6    4.64    86    42
Kris Medlen            7   (14)   6-2    3.68    83    21
Kenshin Kawakami       7   (16)   1-10   5.15    59    32
Mike Minor             3   (8)    3-2    5.98    43    11
Brandon Beachy         0   (3)    0-2    3.00    15     7 

EARLIER TODAY:

Gonzalez keeps Pendleton but not as hitting coach (UPDATED)

Fredi Gonzalez is Braves’ perfect choice to replace Cox

Challenge of Cox’s replacement will be recreating chemistry

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

553 comments Add your comment

Low Key

October 14th, 2010
5:12 am

First….LOL…

Brian O'Blivion

October 14th, 2010
5:32 am

Not sure Colby Rasmus is the answer, but then again, who is? Werth and Crawford are prohibitively expensive. Perhaps the Cubs would be willing to part with Marlon Byrd, but I doubt it.

Jurrjens is fun to watch, but he’s not a very disciplined pitcher, nor does he seem to have a gameplan (or, at least, not one that works, as evidenced by his starts against Colorado and St. Louis). I’m sure he’ll mature into a better pitcher over time, but by then he’ll be a free agent, and Scott Boras will have money on the brain…

NYC Brave

October 14th, 2010
5:33 am

JJ has too much heart and loves the Braves. I’d hold on to him and trade some of that minor league talent. All those prospects can’t make the rotation anyway. Plus JJ’s trade value is low right now.

BravesAreDone

October 14th, 2010
5:36 am

So yeah Lowe and Hudson are both getting old in baseball years so they won’t be around many more seasons. When they leave and you trade Jurrjens… well then what exactly will the Braves be left with a few years down the road as far as pitching?? Well, not much of course. But that’s to be expected as long as a local owner doesn’t take over again.

Rockdale Braves Fan

October 14th, 2010
5:43 am

Jeff: Good question and good bullet point facts you gave us.
My opinion is I would not trade JJ. He should bounce back from a injury riddled season and be the 4th starter. My solution would be to try to give McClouth and KK away (assuming we can get hardly anything or nothing in trade). If we can give them away without having to assume much of their salaries, that would free up enough $$$ to get a quality big bat outfielder.

Larry

October 14th, 2010
5:45 am

Jeff,

How do you know that Liberty Media doesn’t care? How many board meetings have you attended where this was conveyed? Oh, I forgot, you’re a left coast liberal media type that hates corporations that operate for a profit, right? I would prefer a single owner too, like a Blank, but in either case they have to turn a profit or the ship eventually–and sometimes quickly–sinks! All we need is a salary cap in baseball and the problem is fixed. This is why is it called a “league,” as all members of a league should be able to compete equally, like the NFL.

As for Jurrjens, his problem is conditioning. Post a photo of him just two seasons ago and on of him now and he looks like he’s put on about 20-25 pounds of baby fat. This was another problem under Cox…players and coaches making triple visits to the clubhouse leading to utter, unabashed obesity. Cox is fat, several of his coaches are fat, and Jurrjens is fat–at just 24 years old!

You’re right about this part–trade his fat butt for an outfielder that cares about his conditioning–he’ll be less prone to constant, nagging injuries that fat people get when tying their shoes.

Jonas Grumby

October 14th, 2010
6:27 am

Would you trade JJ for Josh Hamilton? That’s pretty much what the Rangers did with Volquez, and that turned out well. But if we’re talking another Wainwright for Drew deal, forget it. Bottom line: Nobody is untouchable if it makes your club better. But that’s a huge “if.”

Not Don Waddell

October 14th, 2010
6:28 am

This team needs major upgrades at 3B, 1B, LF and CF if they want to think about getting near the Phillies.

I would be willing to trade Jurrgens, Minor, Beachy, Hanson or anyone else. The team can’t hit.

Yes, it’s nice to have great starting pitching, but you have to be able to hit at least a little bit.

If we cannot even compete for a guy like Crawford, though, we are just going to have to continue to operate like a Yankees’ farm team and hope we can make it interesting until the end of the season.

dick

October 14th, 2010
6:29 am

Why hold on to KK, he is a liability. Be willing to eat part of his salary and unload him.

Packer Ed

October 14th, 2010
6:33 am

Braves need new owner, can the Braves trade for a new owner that has money to invest and expand current payroll?

NCBravesFan

October 14th, 2010
6:45 am

The thing that makes this a really tough decision in the short term is Medlin’s injury. That said, I’d deal JJ, especially if a good deal could be struck with an AL team. I’d do the Rasmus deal if it presented itself.

Peter

October 14th, 2010
6:57 am

Larry said it best the Braves are a over weight slow team……..beside being one of the oldest in the league. Chipper coming back is not great, but what are the fans to do ?

With Boras being his agent, I say trade him before he asks for too much.

WilliamG

October 14th, 2010
6:57 am

Do you mean coming off a post-season berth, rather than – as you have it – a birth?

Packer Ed

October 14th, 2010
7:03 am

Jeff Schultz and Braves fans, correct me if I am wrong but isn’t Tommy Hanson’s agent Scott Boras also? Maybe the Braves should trade Tommy Hanson to save future payroll and eventual loss of key player. Can not compete in the big dance in October when your payroll is around $80,000,000.

Nativebird

October 14th, 2010
7:04 am

they need a big bat…i mean BIG, as in RBI producing HR hitter, preferrably right handed. fast, talented young, defensive outfielder that’s an average hitter with lots of upside?…we got those…in spades. here, have one.

Let's Go

October 14th, 2010
7:15 am

Jeff
I believe the Braves are going to have to trade someone they may not want to, Jurrjens is a good example & Omar is another, just to get a team to also take McLouth or Kawakami in a deal. The bridge has been brunt and really there is no place on this team for Kawakami next season so to avoid eating the 6.67 mil they are going to have to package him along with someone worthy.

curtis jones

October 14th, 2010
7:17 am

William G is right…it’s berth, not birth. A rare JS miscue. But it’s just one…you’re not Conrad.

But seriously folks, no AJC writer will dare touch this, but the elephant in the room is Chipper Jones coming back in 2011. Not only is he a payroll-strangler, he’s a lineup-choker and a rally-killer.

Chipper: it was fun, dude, but it’s over. You don’t have game anymore. The bat is slow, the range is gone, you’re a liability at the plate and on the field.

Meanwhile, Braves fans (and management) pencil Chipper’s name in each year, as if he’s going to play 150 games, and anchor the lineup. Ten years ago, you could count on that. No more. And there is no backup plan. Fredi needs to deal with this, or we’re back to square one.

curtis jones

October 14th, 2010
7:19 am

Kawakami has the trade value of anthtrax. No team in their right mind would touch him.

O'Brien

October 14th, 2010
7:19 am

The problem with trading JJ is his value is at a low right now. If we had traded him last season, we could have gotten a lot more for him. But coming off a bad season in which he was hurt, our return would not be much (imo).

And I think Lowe is tradeable. The guy went 5-0 in September with a 1.17 ERA, and being named player of the month. And he pitched well in the postseason (which he always has).

Although he is old,, he will make 30 starts, and win 15 games, and if a team gets to the postseason, he will make a difference. Plus there could be a team out there who is thinking that Lowe of 2011 will be the Lowe of September 2010.

I say trade Lowe, even if its mostly to dump salary. And use his money for offense, and a 4th or 5th starter (Like Vazquez, maybe).

jhughes

October 14th, 2010
7:20 am

i believe mclouth has a buyout in his contract for this year that wren said that they have been taking out of payroll just in case they wanted to get rid of him this year.

Bill M.

October 14th, 2010
7:25 am

I would trade JJ in a minute for right deal. He needs to get himself in shape. I would even trade McCann if it would improve team. They have to get some speed and more power and improve the defense. McCann was not in shape and he can’t run a lick. His defense is so so and he does not call a good game.

coach smith

October 14th, 2010
7:29 am

They WILL NOT trade Jair Jurjens…forget it, it won’t happen!

Now one of the other younger pitchers like MINOR, that might happen becuase you have MEDLEN coming back mid year, to go with BEACHY and MINOR competing for the 5th spot AND you have TERHEN and DELGADO in the minor leagues

That gives you LOWE, HUDSON, JURJENS, HANSON, and then MEDLEN, MINOR, BEACHY, DELGADO, and TERHEN

Look for the Braves to sign either WERTH or CRAWFORD and then trade a younger pitcher for another stick

semiballcoach

October 14th, 2010
7:33 am

rasmus isn;t the answer, he’s not from columbus, but phenix city, alabama just across the river.

if you get rasmus, you get his interfering dad too, and atlanta is alot closer than st. louis

coach smith

October 14th, 2010
7:34 am

Bill M.

Trade McCann to omprove yourself??????????

LOL! you are a MORON!

Just because McCann is slow doesn’t mean he isn’t in shape!

McCann is the best most clutch hitter on the team and has the most power!

McCann is also arguably the best offensive catcher in the game

Braves trading Jair Jurrjens? | Ben Maller

October 14th, 2010
7:36 am

[...] a 2.60 ERA in 2009 to 20 starts, 10 quality starts, 7-6 and a 4.64 ERA this season. But of all the Braves’ tradable assets, Jurrjens is the most likely to fetch something decent in return. It’s either that or fill available starting jobs in left and center field on the cheap again. [...]

Formul8or

October 14th, 2010
7:41 am

I agree that you almost have to give up Jurrjens because outside of Hudson and Hanson he will fetch more than any pitcher we have. I love the guy but he’s likely the odd man out unless he agrees to a somewhat cheap longterm contract.

Plus you have Teheran in the minors.

Reuben Houston

October 14th, 2010
7:46 am

Coming off a postseason birth, they should take things easy til they’ve recovered.

Hoosier Aaron

October 14th, 2010
7:50 am

I think Derek Lowe will be traded – not JJ.
Bobby Cox made the comment after game four “Derek will be a 20 game winner next year with a little support.”

I saw that and immediately thought, “Bobby is doing a great off-season sales job”.
His value is very high after his September and post-season. $30 million is tough but what is the market for a 20 game winner (according to Bobby) and a big-time post-season pitcher?
Not to mention clearing the $15 million to get some offense.

Gen Neyland

October 14th, 2010
7:51 am

Can the Braves trade Kawakami to the Tokoyo Giants for a boat load of sushi..? Jurrgens. Why does the image of a Mike Hamilton Lite come to mind..? Given Lollipop Nate’s troubles at the plate early 2010 and his trip to Gwinnett to ‘fix’ his woes and then his brief good eye upon his return, I felt miracles do occur, until he slipped up on a specific mental error lob from left field in a game in which the winning run scored from, was it first..? Nate wins the Brooks Conrad Award for the most consistent and overall waste of good money…and speaking of Brooks, I gotta wonder if he’ll be back in 2011 due to his, hmmm, misjudging popups and grounders in the clutch.

turkeycaller

October 14th, 2010
8:04 am

It will be another disappointment if Larry Jones attempts another season. He is no longer athletic enough to be considered a positive force. Over the past couple of seasons he has in no manner justified his position or salary and is simply an albatross around the team’s neck. This is not intended as a jab at Jones but simply an obvious fact. I don’t think mgt. even knows what will happen but anyone could be traded if the net result would improve the team. It will be interesting as to what happens to say the least.

El Bravo

October 14th, 2010
8:06 am

Jeff, I don’t think our options are as limited as you think. We already have replacements at closer and 1st (Kimbrell and Freeman). Melky, Ankiel, Lee, Saito, Wagner, Farnsworth, Glaus are all coming of the books (about $17 mil when you prorate salaries for the players we traded for) and we are only really looking for an outfielder with pop. We are loaded with young, cheap relievers, we have a cheap, decent infield (with Infante, Prado, Chipper, Gonzalez and Freeman), you have the luxury of having Minor in the pen for spot starts, long relief. We should have plenty of cash to pursue someone like Magglio Ordonez (should be cheaper than Crawford at about $12 mil per season). You do not trade quality, young starters unless you are overwhelmed by the offer…

Steven Lemon

October 14th, 2010
8:07 am

Look, people, even with the loss of Prado, Medlin, Chipper, JJ, offense at first base and a ho-hum outfield, the Braves came within a couple of hits, runs and errors of making the second round of the playoffs. They should have won game three and had a great chance to win game four.

I would never trade a 24 year old rising star when I have two top line starters in Lowe and Hudson, either of which we could trade for a better than average outfielder.

I would personally not trade ANYONE. Letting Derek Lee, Troy Glauss, Melky Cabrera, Rick Ankiel, Kawakami and possibly Saito walk should free up enough cash to sign a really good outfielder, but the Braves should focus on developing minor league talent. Otherwise I don’t even understand what the purpose of a minor league system is. They COULD just scrap the minor league system and spend the money on free agents, kind of like the Yankees did for decades, in effect.

jfreak13713

October 14th, 2010
8:09 am

I would not trade JJ unless its a can’t miss kind of guy in return. I like Rasmus as a ballplayer but he is not a can’t miss guy just yet. Pitching gives us a chance and if JJ is healthy hey may be our best pitcher so I can’t see trading him right now. But I do understand with a limited budget choices have to be made and it may come down to great pitching with limited hitting or good pitching with quality hitting?

papadawg

October 14th, 2010
8:12 am

I would like to see them keep our current pitching staff, start the kid at first base sign a free agent outfielder but with the CHEAPA__ NO CARE OWNERS WE HAVE I can’t expect this to happen. The Phils built their team by adding a piece here and there till they got to where they are but it cost more money to have a Caddilac instead of a Yugo

Felix Millan

October 14th, 2010
8:13 am

Coach Smith- ever hear of Joe Maurer?

E-6

October 14th, 2010
8:15 am

It’s a given that the Braves will TRY to deal Lowe first. His value is certainly higher than a year ago. But with him, they probably have to package a prospect to get a legitimate left fielder – and that is the key – legitimate and right handed as our starting lineup becomes more left handed next year with Freeman at 1B. Rasmus, as suggested by Jeff, would be a good starting point.

possum jones

October 14th, 2010
8:16 am

i wouldnt trade jj and i definitely dont think colby rasmus is the answer. any guy with more strike outs than hits does not need to be added to this roster. what made the braves so good early in the season was that they had players who put the ball in play and did not strike out much. we ended up leading the league in walks, but thru trades and “fiddling” we ended up with the same team which struggles to score b\c we’re waiting for a 2-run homer.

delmon young was available last year and we balked…guess what (.298, 21HR, 112RBI, 170 hits, 81Ks). the twins tendered him @ $2.6M last year (melky got $3.1M and are those his numbers?). ive been scouring the league to find some decent replacements in the outfield, but the options are limited in 2011. however, a player young (1st overall pick in 2003) was on the scrap heap last year and for the low-low, if we can take a chance on melky “built-for-comfort” cabrera, we should have at least taken a chance on a #1 overall, right?

at any rate, a couple of solutions until jordan schafer and/or gorkys hernandez are ready; maybe a coco crisp or bring corey patterson back home? we need some speed and contact hitters to put some pressure on the opposing team’s defense. i would prefer to not go another year w/mccann leading the team in stolen bases. its just sick.

lastly, im choosing not to go there (e.g. skipping delmon and our lack of speed), but im just saying…yall know even if u wont admit it. im hoping frank doesnt have the same non-urban dictate as his predecessor.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 14th, 2010
8:17 am

Stupid idea to trade a promising young player just because bad GM decisions have put bad salaries on the books. I’d rather stand pat with the current roster going into next year than weaken the rotation for the purpose of bolstering the offense. I don’t want to look at Jurrjens putting up All-Star numbers somewhere else down the road — like we do now with Adam Wainwright — just because Frank Wren happened to pay Kawakami too much. Wait until Lowe and Kawakami expire and use that money to bring in better players in a couple of years, and in the meantime focus your attention in the draft on bringing in offensive talent.

And anyway, after the turd sandwich the Braves got last year for Vazquez and Soriano, I’d rather not see what else our genius GM has in store on the trade market.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 14th, 2010
8:18 am

“at any rate, a couple of solutions until jordan schafer and/or gorkys hernandez are ready”

Gorkys Hernandez is a Pittsburgh Pirate, thanks to the McLouth trade.

jfreak13713

October 14th, 2010
8:19 am

Trade Chipper? Come on guys that will never happen nor should it! Chipper has earned the right to play as long as he desires. I wouldn’t bat him 3rd but he can still hit .270 with a little pop and what he has meant to this team over the years can’t be measured in dollars. Old man Chipper has been loyal to the Braves and they should in turn be loyal to him.

E-6

October 14th, 2010
8:21 am

Sorry, hit send too soon. With Rasmus, of course, you would have to find a right handed CF or LF but I’m not so sure we don’t already have that on our roster in Matt Diaz.

75years

October 14th, 2010
8:21 am

We should try to trade Jurrjens & McLouth to Arizona for Chris Young

Steve-o

October 14th, 2010
8:21 am

I sure hope they don’t trade Lowe, which someone above said is more likely to happen than trading JJ. Lowe has shown himself to be just as good as Hudson, IMO. The erratic & unpredictable JJ, however, is completely expendable if it will help shore up the woefully weak outfield. Beachy and Minor are the future anyway, not JJ.

Naf Sevarb

October 14th, 2010
8:26 am

I think the Braves are going to fill that spot in left field with a Mag Ordonez(sp) or a Pat Burrell type. It would be stupid to trade Jurgens when his stock is so low and his salary is so low. There is enough falling of the books this year to afford a big bat but I think as one of the guys above just said it is Chippers 14 mil that is really choking us!

E-6

October 14th, 2010
8:26 am

Funny thing about Chipper. The other NL teams don’t seem to have the same low opinion of the 38-year-old as many on the blog. Still were pitching around him last season. Guy manages to come up big with games on the line.

Larry

October 14th, 2010
8:29 am

What could we get in a trade for Obama? Offer a few bats and some real balls and he’s yours!

BnB

October 14th, 2010
8:30 am

Trading a quality young and inexpensive starter seems like a bad move to me. With Prado and Chipper presumably coming back and Heyward having another year under his belt surely there are viable options that are also affordable with free agents as opposed to straight up trades. Wren’s free agent moves have been fairly horrible on the high end. McLouth and esp. Kawamaki have been unmitigated disasters.

richham

October 14th, 2010
8:32 am

I’m tired of the Braves signing retreads! Posednik would be a viable choice for left field if they are going to cheap out again. Dunn could also work in left field and would cost more.

I think you could get a nice return from Lowe this year or JJ. McClouth is the big question mark. He could come back and have a big year or he could come back and stink it up royally. Chipper is a big question mark. I don’t want an okay return, if your going to trade JJ you need to get a really solid outfielder back in return, preferably with some speed. This organization needs to start playing some of these prospects like the Marlins and letting them learn on the fly. If the Braves are going to continue to go cheap on filling out the roster than our prospects can do just as good of a job as the old guys we sign every year for next to nothing. There is a reason for that.

The 2012 free agent class looks pretty poor. The Braves and their owners are stupid to not make a run at Werth or Crawford. I wouldn’t give them more than 4 years on a contract, but I would try to figure something out. The overall state of the economy should work well in the Braves favor if they would pump a little more money into the team. Saito is worth a couple of million and I don’t think we will resign him.

The closer situation is a big concern.

justafan

October 14th, 2010
8:33 am

Schafer… is another past failure. U can forget that. He could be traded…maybe?

Steve-o

October 14th, 2010
8:34 am

I’m looking forward to seeing Chipper return, but I wasn’t aware he’ll be making $14 mil next year. Wow! That would buy us 2 pretty good outfielders!