Atlanta Braves Trade Rumors: Team Could Make Playoffs Without Brian McCann

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIJuly 30, 2013

Jul 24, 2013; New York, NY, USA;  Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) goes to first after being hit by a pitch during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

The Atlanta Braves don’t need Brian McCann to make the postseason this year.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Texas Rangers called Atlanta about the team’s starting catcher, but the Braves weren’t interested in giving him up. While McCann has been solid behind the plate this season, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the team traded him, and it wouldn’t impact their playoff hopes.

The Braves entered Monday riding a three-game winning streak, and also sit atop the NL East standings by 8.5 games. No one in the division is going to catch Atlanta the way the team has been playing recently—and this season. Even if the team suffered a long slump, the Braves would still likely win the division crown.

McCann has been a big part of the team’s success. Through 62 games, he’s hitting .284/.368/.517 with 13 home runs and 35 RBI. But while he’s been good offensively and defensively, the Braves are going to have to find a spot for Evan Gattis once B.J. Upton comes off the disabled list.

Sure, Upton hasn’t played well at all in 2013, but he’s still going to be starting in left field once he’s healthy. That doesn’t leave a position for Gattis to play on a daily basis. And he’s been too good to come off the bench. Through 64 games, he’s hitting .259/.314/.537 with 15 homers and 39 RBI.

There’s no reason why the Braves couldn’t trade McCann to the Rangers and have Gattis catch each night. Gerald Laird is more than capable of backing him up, as he’s been outstanding even though he hasn't played too often. He’s only played in 28 games but is still batting .293/.384/.400 this season.

The Rangers could use an upgrade at the designated hitter position in the lineup and potentially at catcher as well. McCann and A.J. Pierzynski could split time behind the plate and being the designated hitter, as Lance Berkman is currently on the 15-day disabled list with hip inflammation. McCann would be an ideal fit for Texas.

A factor in all of this is that McCann’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season. Rosenthal notes that he’ll likely be out of the Braves’ price range. It’s fine to try to squeeze the last bit of juice out of him before he hits free agency, but why shouldn’t Atlanta try to get something in return for him while it still can?

The Braves need to find a replacement for Tim Hudson in the starting rotation whether they want to admit it or not. The bullpen is taken care of now that the team acquired Scott Downs from the Angels, per the team’s official Twitter account. So, here’s the ideal scenario, which may be a pipe dream.

Atlanta should trade prospects to acquire one of the better starting pitchers on the market before Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. If the Braves can pull that off, they can deal McCann to the Rangers to try to get some talent back in their minor league system . Completing one big deal with Texas won’t work out.

Texas just traded for Matt Garza, as it needed some starting pitching as well. The Rangers don’t have much pitching talent in the lower levels of their organization and it would seem unlikely they’d give up one of their current big league starters. A third team has to be involved in all of this.

In that scenario, the Braves get the pitcher they need and are still fine behind the plate. Gattis can take the team to the postseason and Atlanta likely wouldn’t even notice that McCann was gone. The franchise may want to hang onto him for the rest of the year, but the team has to know that it doesn’t really need him.


All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 28. All injury information in this article was obtained via Baseball Prospectus and all contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.