Having an extra pitcher is quite a luxury, however.
As of right now, the Braves have six capable starters:
- Derek Lowe: ERA - 4.67
- Jair Jurrjens: ERA - 2.60
- Javier Vazquez: ERA - 2.87
- Kenshin Kawakami: ERA - 3.86
- Tommy Hanson: ERA - 2.89
- Tim Hudson: ERA - 3.61
Now let's analyze: If you average the Braves rotation's ERA with Lowe along with assuming that Tim Hudson pitched like this the whole year (which he probably would have had an even better ERA), you get 3.41. 3.41 is still one heck of an average ERA. If you average the rotation without Lowe, you get 3.16.
Now the difference of 0.25 might not seem like much, but that is a pretty big number in terms of how small the Atlanta Braves ERA could be.
Along with Lowe's not-so-Lowe (pun intended) salary figure of $15 million per year, you do not have to be the smartest person in the world to figure out who is the best trade candidate.
With a glaring need of offense, along with a need of a first baseman and an outfielder, Lowe needs to be traded.
As of this point in the offseason, the average person would believe the Braves are crazy to think they can find a suitor for Lowe.
But with the starting pitching in free agency being scarce, with John Lackey as the only outstanding pitcher on the market, Wren can expect calls from teams. When Lackey is gone, the teams that didn't get him that wanted him will be begging for some pitching.
Lackey is only going to one of these teams, so the others will be needing pitching.
After Lackey is off the free market, Wren can sit back and wait for his phone to get busy. There are several points he can make to other teams when trading Lowe:
- He just had a bad year. He was pretty good the years before.
- He had some bad luck. Lowe got groundballs, some just went through the holes. (see May 6th at Florida, June 14th at Baltimore and August 18th at New York).
- Without those three starts, Lowe has an ERA of just 3.92.
- Put him in an infield with good defense and he will be money.
- He had a blister that bothered him much of the year.
- He is pretty durable. He's averaging 208 innings a year over the past five years.
- Really, what other option do you have? Lackey is gone.
Teams may want the Braves to pick up some of the tab for Lowe's contract, so it is a possibility that Wren might give $1-3 million a year for salary relief.
The Potential Landing Spots
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels have already gotten beaten up. Chone Figgins has signed with their division rival Mariners, and if Lackey leaves, their chances for another AL West title die down. But with Lowe, they can help rejuvenate that starting pitching.
The Braves may ask for Juan Rivera, but in the case that doesn't happen, you could see a salary dump. The Braves may get a couple of prospects in return.
The Mariners are looking to become a contender and they have the core to do it. With Chone Figgins and Ichiro, they have an awesome one-two punch. They are looking to get Lackey, but if they do not, Lowe could fit right in to that rotation. The Braves main target here could be Jose Lopez, a guy who hit 25 bombs last year. Lopez is a second baseman, but Cox would find a way to get him into the lineup.