Now that the Braves' 2010 season has come to a close, it's time to take a look at what we should do this offseason.
First off, let's look at who's currently on the Braves and may or may not be back next year.
Wagner: $6.5 million saved
Melky: $3.1 million saved
Diaz: $2.55 million saved
Free Agent Departures
Saito: $3.2 million saved
Glaus: $2.35 million saved
Hinske: $1 million saved
I really hope we bring Hinske back at $1 million and I think it is very possible. I would also not mind bringing Saito back on a minor league deal, or Diaz on a smaller contract, but honestly don't expect either to happen.
I think we need to trade Kawakami and McLouth. I would call up the Cubbies. Trade Kawakami, McLouth and Christian Bethancourt for Kosuke Fukudome and $5 million. This would give us a savings of $6 million and a solid fourth OF. Clearly Bethancourt is the most valuable player in this trade as a young productive catcher, but the Braves do it for the financial savings and production from Kosuke.
The Braves only have Brian McCann and Omar Infante with non-arbitration raises totaling $1.5 million
So using this model, we have $23 million prior to arbitration raises to Moylan, Prado and O'Flaherty. Moylan is the only second-time arbitration, the rest are first-timers. Save $4 million for arbitration raises. (I know Jurrjens should be in here, but we will get to that.)
That leaves us with $19 million to spend.
It's clear that center field and left field offensive production should be the main focus.
First major move: Trade Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Cody Johnson for Shin-Soo Choo.
Yes, this is a big package, two big-time pitching prospects and a power-hitting OF prospect but Choo is worth it. We would have him for three years of arbitration eligibility. Right now he is one of the best out fielders in the game while playing in a lineup where he is the only good offensive player. He would come here and play a great LF while getting on base at a .400 clip and being a consistent 20-20 producer.
I call Shin-Soo Choo the AL's unknown Korean version of Jason Heyward. If you look at their statistics, they are very similar with the slight edge to Choo. Choo is in his prime and Heyward was just a rookie, so Heyward obviously has the higher upside and will be the better player, but Choo would be an excellent addition to this team and would hit No. 2 allowing Heyward to drop in the order and develop his power.
This trade would cost us roughly $4 million in arbitration for Choo.
Second major move: Trade Jair Jurrjens for Alex Rios, Matt Thornton and $7M cash.
I really believe that Jurrjens will be moved this winter. If we were to get a player like Alex Rios, who is a right-handed power-hitting center fielder, who has great speed, he would be exactly what we need. Jurrjens is just hitting arbitration, so Chicago will have him for a minimum of three years.
This will cost us $8 million for the 2011 season.
Sign Javy Vazquez for one year at $5 million. He was a Cy Young candidate in 2009 with Atlanta. We can take a risk signing him for a cheap contract, and he can rebuild his value for a contract in 2012.
Sign Melvin Mora for one year at $2 million. A right-handed bat for the bench, and he could fill in for Freeman or Chipper.
Here is the lineup:
2B: Prado (Right)
LF: Choo (Left)
3B: Chipper (Switch)
RF: Heyward (Left)
CF: Rios (Right)
C: McCann (Left)
SS: Gonzalez (Right)
1B: Freeman (Left)
Bench: Ross, Infante, Koske, Hinske, Mora
RP: Kimbrel (RH)
RP: Venters (LH)
RP: Thornton (LH)
RP: Moylan (RH)
RP: E O'F (LH)
RP: Saito (RH)
RP: Dunn (LH)
I truly believe this would get the Braves to the World Series in 2011. This would create a lineup that has no easy outs from top to bottom. While having a strong starting staff and a wonderful bullpen.
What are your thoughts? Are any of these completely unrealistic? Do you have any better ideas? Let's hear them?