Atlanta Braves: 6 Trades to Turn Pitching Depth into Offense

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIMarch 7, 2012

Atlanta Braves: 6 Trades to Turn Pitching Depth into Offense

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    The are some weaknesses in the Atlanta Braves offense.

    I'm sure not many fans will disagree with that.

    However, the one thing the Braves do have is pitching depth throughout their minor league system. And, if there's one thing that teams always need, it's pitching.

    With the depth of the Braves pitching staff and the need for offense, here's a look at six trades the Braves could make, trading away some of their pitching depth to get much-needed offense.

    Note that only pitchers will be involved in any trade on the Braves' side, while offensive help will only be included on the opposing team's side.

Adam Jones and Jason Esposito for Jair Jurrjens and Randall Delgado

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    Okay, so we know that the Braves turned down a trade offer earlier in the off-season from the Orioles, who requested two of the four young guns in return for Jones.

    While the asking price was too high for Jones alone, adding in Jason Esposito might be just enough for the Braves to accept the offer.

    Currently, the Orioles have the ability to move first baseman Mark Reynolds to third base, with Chris Davis as his backup. With that, Esposito (ranked No. 5 prospect in Orioles system) can be put on the block and could be the piece that sweetens the offer for the Braves.

    With Chipper Jones likely to retire either after this season or next, Esposito would be able to slide into the third base starting job come 2013 or 2014, when he's projected to make it to the big leagues.

    We all know about Jones and all the tools he has. Should Michael Bourn bolt Atlanta for free agency after this season, then Jones would be a nice fit in center field and at the top of the lineup.

    This one might not happen, as we know the Braves hate to part with their top pitching prospects.

Corey Hart for Jair Jurrjens

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    Jair Jurrjens becomes a free agent after next season.

    With Scott Boras as his agent, this trade makes sense in that it gives the Braves an outfielder that can hit the long ball, while the Brewers would get a good No. 3 starter for their team.

    By moving Jurrjens, the Braves don't have to deal with Boras and will not only get to keep their top young guns, but will also open up another spot in the rotation for one of them to fill.

    Having Hart come to town, will give the Braves a relatively cheap option in the outfield, giving them until the end of next year to figure out if he's worth extending or not.

Jason Bay for Randall Delgado

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    Jason Bay needs to get out of New York.

    With only two years left on his contract, he would be a perfect fit in Atlanta to fill a hole in the lineup and the outfield.

    For some reason, certain players are great when they're not in New York (Yankees or Mets). Bay is one of those players.

    Prior to coming to New York, Bay was a 100-RBI guy. He could be that again once he's out of New York.

    Although Bay would only likely stay in Atlanta for two years, he'll be a nice fit in Atlanta, and could possibly be signed to an extension should he play well.

    Delgado looks like he'll be the first of the young guns to go as the Braves seem to not want to give up Julio Teheran or Arodys Vizcaino.

Ichiro Suzuki for Jair Jurrjens

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    I know it is crazy to think that the Mariners would actually give up the face of the franchise.

    But, Ichiro is getting up there in age and the Mariners are likely not going to re-sign him after this season.

    Bringing Ichiro in would be a great move for the Braves on many levels. First, there will be a huge Japanese following for the team, since the Japanese pretty much follow his every move.

    Also, think about putting him in the No. 2 slot behind Michael Bourn, with the middle of the order to follow.

    That would be two guys who get on base and steal a lot of bases at the top of their order. That could give the Braves an advantage over the other teams in their division.

Jose Bautista for Randall Delgado, Brandon Beachy and Zeke Spruill

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    If this trade happened, it would be the biggest blockbuster of the year.

    The Blue Jays need Bautista to compete in the American League East. However, the question is, do they need pitching more.

    Although giving up three prime pitchers for Bautista would be more than they gave up for Mark Teixeira with Texas, Bautista could bring that same power to the middle of the order.

    And, the good news is, he'd be under contract until 2016.

    If the Jays would listen to any offers from the Braves on Bautista, this would definitely be one they would consider.

    Doing so, would set up their pitching to allow them to compete with the likes of the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays.

Michael Morse for Jair Jurrjens

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    Although I never suggest to trade with a team in the division, this might be one the Braves should consider.

    The Nationals are looking to compete in the division this year. They don't want to wait until Bryce Harper gets called up.

    Morse will fill a need in left field and in the middle of the order, while Jurrjens will give the Nationals another good pitcher for their rotation.

    This trade is a win-win for both teams, as both would have a few years to figure out if they fit with the team. The Nationals could spend the money to re-sign Jurrjens when he's a free agent, while the Braves could fill much-needed holes.