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Trade proposal: Braves trade RHP J.R. Graham and RHP Lucas Sims to Cubs for RHP Jeff Samardzija and 1B Dan Vogelbach
The Braves are in an interesting spot where they don't need another starting pitcher, but could use a guy who misses bats. Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor make a very good, cost-effective trio at the top of a rotation.
It also doesn't help my case that the Braves are a team so restricted by a budget, being owned by a media corporation, that adding a player in his second year of arbitration like Samardzija could be too rich for their blood.
However, sometimes things just fit together so well that you have to find some way to make it work.
Once again, the Cubs would be betting on a pitcher, J.R. Graham, with a lot of risk. He is older, turning 24 in January, undersized at 5'10" and coming off an injury that limited him to 35.2 innings in 2013.
But those negatives tend to overshadow the positives in Graham's game. He's undersized, but has good movement on the fastball and keeps it down in the zone. His slider and changeup are equally effective weapons, giving him a deep arsenal to keep hitters off balance.
Adding Sims into the deal gives the Cubs insurance and the high-ceiling starter they need. He doesn't turn 20 until April and hasn't pitched above Low-A, but has a great, fluid delivery with a mid-90s fastball and potentially above-average changeup.
Sims' breaking ball needs work, as the curve lacks consistency, but when it's on, it can be a monster.
In return, the Braves would get Samardzija to lead a very good, young starting rotation. I also included Dan Vogelbach in the trade.
Vogelbach is a fascinating prospect. He's built like Prince Fielder, but lacks the athleticism and bat speed. He's got tremendous raw power and could hit 25-plus homers with a solid on-base percentage in the big leagues, though the 21-year-old adds no value defensively.
The Braves may not be able to keep Freddie Freeman long term, which would make Vogelbach a potential replacement candidate in a few years.