Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest Atlanta Braves Rumors
With the past week completely consuming the Braves front office in arbitration dealings and such, the rumor mill for Atlanta has been relatively stale recently.
The key questions for the club, however, have not changed.
Atlanta still needs to resolve the third base/left field situation, and the bats of Martin Prado and Jason Heyward still need to be given long-term contract extensions.
The Braves remain relatively quiet on whether or not they intend to negotiate the contract extensions this offseason, but there have been rumblings elsewhere on the Atlanta front.
Signing Scott Hairston
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Back on December 21 of 2012, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweeted that the Braves were one of the teams expressing the most interest in outfielder Scott Hairston.
The rationale is undeniable; Hairston, 32 years of age, is a right-handed power hitter with the athleticism to play left field for Atlanta. The Braves need an outfielder, and Hairston is the top free-agent outfielder available.
Unfortunately, signing Hairston would simply not be an efficient use of funds.
The nine-year veteran has compiled 7.2 Wins Above Replacement throughout his career—one characterized by his .302 OBP (stats courtesy of Fangraphs).
This type of production is pretty much floor level for Atlanta third baseman Juan Francisco, who is already on payroll.
At least there is upside with Francisco.
The Braves would most likely rather go into camp with Francisco penciled in for 500 at-bats than the superfluous salary of Hairston platooning in the outfield.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction
Michael Bourn Looking to Return
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Finally, the Braves are in a position where they have leverage over the infamous Scott Boras.
With Michael Bourn seemingly headed for a major payday, Frank Wren went out and snagged his center fielder before December rolled around.
Bourn's tenure in a Braves uniform had apparently come to an end.
Or so we thought.
One after another, the center field vacancies around the majors began to fill, but thus far Bourn has been left out in the cold.
David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes that the Braves and Rangers are the last two teams in the running for the services of Bourn, with the Mariners failing to acquire the speedy center fielder.
The reason this could work out for the Braves is that Boras' waiting game might have done him in, as he is in the unique position of his client needing these two teams more than either club needs him.
It's not especially likely (read: very unlikely), but Bourn's stock could fall pretty dramatically into Atlanta's price range. Braves fans might see Bourn wear a tomahawk on his chest once more.
Fact or Fiction: Fact that Bourn is looking to return to Atlanta; Fiction that a deal is likely.
Martin Prado Headed for Arbitration Hearing
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This one might not be so much of a rumor than a fact, but even so, it's worth touching on.
In a nutshell, Martin Prado wants $7.05 million, Atlanta wants to pay him $6.65 million and now the Braves are going to their first arbitration hearing since the case with John Rocker in 2001, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
It's apparently organization policy to end negotiations after the initial exchanges of numbers, so while Atlanta can technically settle with Prado out of court, it's much more likely that Prado and the Braves will fight it out in the judicial system.
Arbitration hearings can sometimes damage the relationship between a team and a player, but O'Brien also tweeted that Prado will handle it well.
In other words, Frank Wren wouldn't be taking this case to court if he didn't think Prado could handle it.
Expect the hearing to be swift and clean; Prado will be signed without too much fuss.
Fact or Fiction: Fact
Dealing for Justin Upton
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Pairing Justin Upton alongside Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton is tantalizing.
For three years, the Braves would have arguably the best outfield in baseball, and a relatively affordable one at that.
David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes that the Braves have yet to rule out making a trade for the younger Upton. It's possible that Frank Wren is simply waiting for the price to come down on Upton to make a move.
According to Doug Mittler of ESPN though, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers isn't going to lower his asking price from what it was earlier this offseason.
This asking price had Seattle giving up three of its top six prospects, including the incredibly talented Taijuan Walker.
Even with Didi Gregorius now in the Diamondbacks farm system, Towers might still want Andrelton Simmons packaged in a deal for Upton.
If this is the case, Wren will not pull the trigger on bringing Upton to Atlanta, no matter how tantalizing the prospect may be.
Starting Juan Francisco at third or Evan Gattis in left is much more likely than the probability of Atlanta bringing Upton to Turner Field.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction