MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Deals to Help the Braves Compete With the Phillies

Joey HnathCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Deals to Help the Braves Compete With the Phillies

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    As a fan of the Atlanta Braves, I have mixed feelings heading into the 2011 campaign. Sure, the Braves won the National League Wild Card in 2010, making the playoffs for the first time since 2005. But for the fourth year in a row, the Philadelphia Phillies captured the National League East crown.

    As things currently stand heading into the 2011 season, there is no reason to believe the Phillies won’t win the division for a fifth straight time, and possibly even a second World Series in four years. With the addition of Cliff Lee to a rotation that already looked like it was assembled by a fantasy baseball manager, the boys from Philadelphia have the entirety of Braves Country worried.

    To help combat the Phillies’ all-world pitching staff, the Braves added second baseman Dan Uggla from the Marlins for pennies on the dollar. The Braves sold high on Omar Infante, who will undoubtedly take a step back from his 2010 season.

    Another key addition for the Braves is George Sherrill. The former closer provides stability in a young bullpen that will rely heavily on Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters after the retirement of Billy Wagner.

    These moves are great and all, but they are not enough. The Braves still need to pull off another deal or two in order to compete with the Phillies in the NL East. The biggest hole Atlanta needs to address is a third outfielder to play alongside Jason Heyward and Martin Prado.

    Frank Wren has plenty of pitching at his disposal to complete a trade. Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy, and Randall Delgado are all players that are dispensable.

    One name that shouldn’t be discussed though is the Braves’ top prospect, Julio Teheran. The young phenom has too much talent to trade away. He is breezing through the minors and should make his major league debut sometime in 2011.

    With all that being said, here are 10 trades that would help the Braves compete with the Phillies.

10. Corey Hart For Mike Minor and Brent Clevlen

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    Last July, the Braves were rumored to be pursuing a Hart-for-Minor trade. They wound up acquiring Rick Ankiel, but for 2011, the Hart trade makes a lot of sense.

    The Braves can stick the right-handed Hart in the middle of their lineup, giving them additional power behind the likes of Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla.

    A Minor/Clevlan package should be enough for the Brewers to pull the trigger.

9. Justin Upton For Jair Jurrjens, Randall Delgado, and Jordan Schafer

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    Frank Wren would be a wizard if he could pull this one off. The Diamondbacks have soured on the idea of trading Upton, but the Braves could put together a very tempting package for the D'Backs.

    Parting ways with Jurrjens, Schafer, and Delgado, the Braves' second best pitching prospect, would be a hefty price to pay, but Upton is an elite talent. A young, right-handed outfielder, Upton would prowl the outfield with Jason Heyward for the next 10 years.

8. Matt Capps For Brandon Beachy

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    The former Pirates and Nationals closer solidified the Twins' bullpen last season, serving as the team's closer after Jon Rauch was ineffective. But with Joe Nathan coming back from Tommy John surgery, Capps will be relegated to a set-up role.

    In order to provide veteran bullpen depth alongside George Sherrill, the Braves should make a push for Capps. With Craig Kimbrel slated to start the season as the closer, Capps would be a great insurance policy should the young Kimbrel falter early in the season.

7. Coco Crisp For Brandon Beachy

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    Crisp is stuck in a logjam in the A's outfield. A speedy, switch-hitting outfielder, he would make a great addition to the Braves' lineup.

    Giving up Brandon Beachy, who will have a hard time cracking the Braves' rotation barring numerous injuries for the second straight year, is an inexpensive price to pay for Crisp and his 32 steals.

6. Kosuke Fukudome For Kenshin Kawakami

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    Swapping these two Japanese-born players with bad contracts for each other makes sense for both teams. The Cubs would add a fifth starter/long reliever, while the Braves would finally have their third starting outfielder.

    Though Fukudome is a lefty getting paid 13.5 million in 2011, the Cubs would almost assuredly be willing to pay a portion of his salary in order to wipe part of it off their books. Also, he is able to be released after the season. Plus, what Braves fan doesn't want Kawakami out of Atlanta?

5. Adam Jones For Mike Minor and Jordan Schafer

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    The key piece in the Erik Bedard trade, Adam Jones has underperformed during his time in Baltimore. A change of scenery could be good for the right-handed outfielder, who still has a lot of unfulfilled potential.

    Like so many others, giving up Minor and Schafer could get this deal done.

4. Curtis Granderson For Jair Jurrjens

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    After losing out on Cliff Lee, the Yankees are beyond desperate for starting pitching. Jair Jurrjens would solve a lot of their problems, and the Yanks would probably be willing to give up Granderson in order to acquire JJ.

    Granderson would be a huge upgrade for the Braves. It's not every day you have the ability to acquire a 20-20 center fielder. The only downside to trading for Granderson is his contract, but if the Braves want to beat the Phillies, they're going to have to open up their wallets.

3. Prince Fielder For Jair Jurrjens, Arodys Vizcaino, and Freddie Freeman

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    A 50 homer first baseman, Fielder would automatically make the Braves' lineup one of the fiercest for the next five years. This makes sense for the Braves only if they can sign Fielder long term, which would be difficult seeing as how the Braves don't work well with his agent, Scott Boras.

    Though giving up Freeman, the Braves' top hitting prospect and their future first baseman, Vizcaino, the team's third best pitching prospect, and Jurrjens is a lot, Fielder has Hall of Fame talent and would help combat the Phillies' pitching.

2. Matt Kemp For Randall Delgado, Mike Minor, and Jordan Schafer

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    Rihanna's ex has almost worn out his welcome in Los Angeles. Amidst reports that he had "gone Hollywood", Kemp's stats suffered in 2010, with only his home runs improving from 2009. Like Adam Jones, a change of scenery would be good for him.

    Dealing three top prospects for Kemp would be risky, but Kemp is a five tool player that could be a staple in the Braves' lineup for years to come.

1. Colby Rasmus For Jair Jurrjens and Jordan Schafer

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    Like Kemp, Rasmus has just about worn out his welcome with his current team. He has butt heads with manager Tony La Russa, and reportedly even asked for a trade. Well, why not give him his wish.

    The Braves could ship Jurrjens and Shafer to the Cardinals for the Columbus native. With Rasmus and Heyward in the middle of the lineup for the next 15 years, a World Series or two are within reach of the Braves.