Odds of Possible Braves Trades Actually Happening

Grant McAuleyContributor IIJuly 11, 2013

Odds of Possible Braves Trades Actually Happening

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    With the trade deadline just three weeks away, time is ticking for contending clubs looking to bolster their rosters in preparation for the pennant drive.

    Count the Atlanta Braves among them.

    Rumors are starting to swirl, talks are picking up steam and deals are beginning to take place around the game. While Atlanta has been sitting in first place all alone virtually all season, general manager Frank Wren has no doubt been evaluating his club's strengths and weaknesses and searching for possible missing pieces.

    The Braves have gotten strong pitching from the entire staff despite dealing with season-ending injuries to key relievers. Still, most of the rumors surrounding the team still revolve around adding bullpen help. 

    Factoring in age, effectiveness, contract status and overall cost, the following slideshow contains five pitchers that Atlanta could look to acquire in the coming weeks.

    All statistics and salary information courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Oliver Perez

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    Pitcher: Oliver Perez, LHP

    Current team: Seattle Mariners

    Age: 30

    Contract status: Signed through 2013

    2013 Statistics:

     2 2 1.8337  2 34.1  1447  1.19 


    Speculation: With Luis Avilan carrying the load and rookie Alex Wood still adjusting to the relief role, it would make sense for Atlanta to seek a third left-hander to fill out its bullpen. Perez fits that description.

    John Heyman of CBS Sports reported that both the Braves and Orioles are interested in the left-hander's services heading toward the deadline. That potential bidding war might help the Mariners leverage a better prospect in return for Perez, who is on a very affordable one-year contract.

    A starter for nearly a decade before moving to the bullpen with the Seattle, Perez has been strong in relief. He has posted a 1.97 ERA in 70 appearances, striking out 71 and walking 24 over 64 innings out of the bullpen over the past two seasons.

    As I outlined in my "Early Trade Targets" piece, FanGraphs shows that Perez has regained his lost velocity and thus been the strikeout pitcher of old. His career splits against left-handed hitters are strong, and he is holding them to a .259/.319/.259 line with no extra-base hits in 2013.

    While the Mariners may not be interested in a full-scale dismantling of their club, Perez may be one of the better trade chips they hold. He is a free agent at the end of the season and should not cost more than a mid-level pitching and possibly a low-level position player prospect.

    Trade probability: High

Joba Chamberlain

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    Pitcher: Joba Chamberlain, RHP

    Current team: New York Yankees

    Age: 27

    Contract status: Signed through 2013

    2013 Statistics:

     105.4823 121.11022 1.73


    Speculation: The New York Post was first to report that both the Braves and San Francisco Giants have been kicking the proverbial tires on the hard-throwing Chamberlain.

    His injury history and spotty track record over the past few seasons, along with the Yankees' apparent desire to unload him on another club, makes Chamberlain an interesting but unstable option.

    This season, Chamberlain missed almost all of May with a strained right oblique. Since returning, he has been spotty at best. Over 13 appearances since May 30, Chamberlain has allowed nine earned runs on 17 hits and four walks in 12 innings. Though he has struck out 15 batters, his 6.75 ERA and .327 BAA are hardly numbers that will up his trade value.

    Once seen as a big part of New York's future plans, Chamberlain was shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen for four seasons before nearly having his career ended following a freak accident on a trampoline in the spring of 2012.

    While the velocity is still there, the secondary pitches are inconsistent. If he could somehow reel off a very effective run following the All-Star break and leading up to the deadline, perhaps the Braves would be more interested.

    Trade probability: Low

Matt Thornton

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    Pitcher: Matt Thornton, LHP

    Current team: Chicago White Sox

    Age: 36

    Contract status: Signed through 2013 (Team option for 2014)

    2013 Statistics:

     0 34.0039 0271020 1.30


    Speculation: The price tag will be a question mark for Atlanta and any other club looking to acquire Thornton over the other less expensive options that could be out on the market.

    Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted on July 7 that Thornton is on a laundry list of relievers that the Boston Red Sox could go after, but termed Atlanta's interest in the White Sox lefty as "limited."

    Another bullpen option that appeared in my "Early Trade Targets" article two weeks ago, Thornton is a little longer in the tooth than the likes of Oliver Perez and others on this list.

    His best days are definitely behind him, but Thornton could still be of service as a situational lefty. So far in 2013, he has held left-handed hitters to a .176/.236/.392 slash line in 56 plate appearances.

    Chicago would probably have to cover the $1 million buyout of his $6 million team option in order to get a better prospect in return. That could entice Atlanta to throw its hat in the ring for Thornton.

    Trade probability: Low, but that could change.

Glen Perkins

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    Pitcher: Glen Perkins, LHP

    Current team: Minnesota Twins

    Age: 30

    Contract status: Signed through 2015 (Team option for 2016)

    2013 Statistics:

     101.93332032.2 745 0.77


    Speculation: Far and away the most talented pitcher on this list is is Twins closer Glen Perkins. He could accomplish everything that Jonny Venters did for Atlanta. 

    Perkins has been a steady closer, converting 20 of 22 save chances this season, while holding opponents to a .157/.213/.257 line in 122 plate appearances to earn his first All-Star berth.

    Now, there is of course the matter of enticing the Twins to trade an extremely affordable and productive late-inning lefty reliever. That sounds like the kind of arm that every team that is probably a couple of years away from vying for the AL Central title would want to have on hand when the time comes.

    The Twins lost 10 out of 11 coming into their final series before the All-Star break, but that does not affect Perkins' value in the least. Whether or not it makes them more inclined to sell is the question on the mind of interested clubs.

    How friendly is Perkins' contract? Try two years and $7.5 million remaining on the four-year, $10.3 million extension he signed while serving a setup man prior to 2012.

    Henry Schulman of SFGate reported last week that the Gaints had dispatched scouts to watch Joba Chamberlain pitch. Their opponent in that series, however, was the Minnesota Twins.

    While Schulman's sources indicated that the Giants were also evaluating the performance of Perkins, he likewise wondered if the Twins lefty would even be available.

    Trade probability: Low

Kevin Gregg

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    Pitcher: Kevin Gregg, RHP

    Current team: Chicago Cubs

    Age: 35

    Contract status: Signed through 2013

    2013 Statistics:

     211.78311530.11033 1.02


    Speculation: The most oft-reported name to interest Atlanta thus far is Cubs closer Kevin Gregg.

    Released by the Orioles after 2012, Gregg caught on with the Los Angeles Dodgers but found himself the odd man out toward the end of spring training. Thus, he signed a minor league deal with the Cubs midway through April.

    The results are quite frankly more than Chicago could have hoped for.

    Gregg's performance as de facto closer following the implosion and subsequent trade of Carlos Marmol has been one of the few highlights for the struggling Cubs this season.

    There is a familiarity factor here as well, with Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez having piloted the Marlins in 2007 and 2008 when Gregg was serving as the club's closer. He has recorded 159 saves in an 11-year career that includes stops in six cities and two tours with Chicago.

    Mark Bowman of MLB.com opined late last month that Gregg would interest the Braves. While he is not a lefty arm to compliment Avilan and Wood, Gregg has proven himself against left-handed opponents. They are batting just .113/.203/.189 against him in 61 plate appearances in 2013.

    The price may not be high, but the Cubs should be able to get a mid-level pitching prospect or perhaps a young position player who fits well in their rebuilding plans.

    Trade probability: High

    Grant McAuley covers baseball for Sports Radio 92-9 The Game in Atlanta. You can follow Grant on Twitter.