Jair Jurrjens may be finished in Atlanta.
According to an MLB.com article, the Atlanta Braves are making All-Star pitcher Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado available in order to fill their needs in the outfield and at shortstop, as well as to cut salary. Jurrjens and Prado are each due to make in the $5 million range next season through arbitration, and both have had injury issues in each of the past two seasons.
This article takes a look five teams that could be a fit for the Braves' stars and who could offer the Braves a fair package in return, including the Kansas City Royals, who were the mentioned in the MLB.com article as a potential partner.
Wil Myers is one player the Braves are interessted in acquiring.
According to the MLB.com story, the Royals are interested in Prado and Jurrjens, and the Braves have interest in outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Wil Myers. According to The Kansas City Star, rumors are that talks have stalled because the Royals do not want to move Myers, but this would be an ideal fit for both teams.
Myers was among the top 10 prospects in the game at the start of the year, but after battling injury and struggling to adjust to Double-A pitching, as well as a position change as a 20 year-old, his stock took a hit. Myers rebounded from his minor league line of .254/.353/.393 with with eight homers and 49 runs batted in after resting a bit and heading to the Arizona Fall League. In Arizona, he looked like the potential star scouts saw in 2010 as he has started hitting for both average and power again.
The 25-year-old Cain is a Georgia native who was sent to the Royals from Milwaukee last winter in the Zack Greinke deal. The speedy outfielder, who plays strong defense, didn't see much time in the major leagues after playing in 43 games with the Brewers in 2010 because of the strong years that ex-Braves Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur had. But in 49 career games, he is a .302/.343/.402 hitter with a homer, 14 runs batted in and seven steals, and he hit .312 with 16 homers in Triple-A this year.
The Royals are rebuilding with some great prospects who have finally started to reach the big leagues. Surrounding the likes of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas with a pair of young players who have already been All-Stars would give the team a boost.
The trade makes sense for both teams, but if the Royals aren't willing to deal Myers, the Braves may not be willing to make something happen. If the Braves look at other prospects, the Royals have few hitting prospects remaining in the upper levels of the minors after promoting their best players this year.
Could Dexter Fowler interest the Braves?
Troy Renck of the Denver Post speculated through Twitter yesterday that the Braves are an intriguing possible trade parner since Dexter Fowler and Charlie Blackmon are Atlanta natives. Renck admits that he doesn't know of any connection between the two teams just yet but that he will follow up
Despite the fact that Fowler hasn't lived up to his full potential, he has still been a solid major league center fielder. Fowler hit .266/.363/.432 with five homers and 45 runs batted in this year while playing strong defense. If the Braves are worried about Michael Bourn leaving as a free agent following next season, Fowler could be his replacement.
Blackmon, a Georgia Tech product who made his major league debut this year, looked solid in 27 games before a season-ending injury. Blackmon hit .255/.277/.296 with a homer, eight runs batted in and five steals. While Blackmon will never be a star and rarely stands out, he is similar to Cubs prospect Brett Jackson in that he's solid in all aspects of the game.
The Rockies could certainly use a replacement for the departed Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jurrjens would give the team a significant upgrade over the internal options. Prado could fill in at second, third or in right field and give the franchise an immediate boost.
The Braves would likely request one of the two outfielders above and other prospects in a potential deal. The first name the Braves would ask Rockies for is Nolan Arrenado, a talented third base bat who is improving defensively. Outfielder and former Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker, outfielders Rafael Ortega and Corey Dickerson and shortstops Rosell Herrera and Josh Rutledge (Trevor Story isn't eligible to be traded until the summer) could attract the Braves.
The Braves could be interested in a package including Josh Reddick.
After a disappointing collapse similar to the Braves and a major overhaul in the front office, the Red Sox could be looking to make a splash. Pitching is the team's biggest need at the moment, and Jurrjens could be a target. Prado could fit in well in the outfield, especially now that JD Drew's spot is now open. The Red Sox have plenty to offer the Braves, led by young outfielders Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish.
Reddick got his first extended look in the big leagues this year, and he hit .280/.327/.457 with seven homers, 18 doubles and 28 runs batted in while playing in 87 games. The soon-to-be 25-year-old left-handed hitter could play all three outfield positions and has decent power in his bat.
Kalish didn't see the big leagues this year after a strong debut in 2010 due to injury, but he still has the potential to be a solid player. He hit .252/.305/.405 with four homers, 24 runs batted in and 10 steals while playing in 53 games last season. He will only be 24 years old at the start of 2012, so he could rebound from his missed season in 2011.
The Red Sox have a bunch of others who could help the Braves, including current big league shortstops Jed Lowrie and Mike Aviles, plus slick-fielding prospect Jose Iglesias. If the Braves believe power-hitting catcher Ryan Lavarnway could convert to left field, he could be a target as well. However, the player the Braves could want most is third base prospect Will Middlebrooks, a strong defender with developing power and the potential to hit for a good average.
Zack Cozart could give the Braves a starting shortstop.
The Cincinnati Reds missed the playoffs this year because, outside of Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, the starting pitchers struggled. Due to this, the Reds were linked to trades for Ubaldo Jimenez and James Shields around the trading deadline—something that means that they could really desire Jair Jurrjens. The Reds also could use Prado in left or at third if Scott Rolen misses time again.
What the Reds would have to offer the Braves could start with Yonder Alonso or Zack Cozart.
Alonso is a former first-round draft pick from the University of Miami that finally got a real shot in the majors late this year and responded well. In 47 games, the 24-year-old hit .330/.398/.545 with five homers and 15 runs batted in, and although he likely won't match those numbers again, he has plenty of value as a young, cheap hitter.
Cozart is a major league-ready shortstop who played well in 11 games before going under Tommy John Surgery on his non-throwing arm. In his brief time in Cincinnati, he hit .324/.324/.486 with two homers and three runs batted in, following a Triple-A line of .310/.357/.467 with seven homers and a total of 37 batted in while playing in 77 games. If Cozart is full strength for spring training, he could immediately be a better-than-average big league shortstop.
The Reds also have some other names that could interest the Braves, such as power-hitting left fielder Chris Heisey, who hit 18 homers in 279 at bats this year. Powerful third basemen Juan Francisco and Todd Frazier could also have value, especially Frazier because of his multi-position versatility.
If the Braves look to the prospect front, the Reds have Double-A shortstop DiDi Gregorius, speedy outfielder Ryan LaMarre and potential late-inning reliever Brad Boxberger. There's also top prospect shortstop Billy Hamilton, but he is a few years away from the major leagues.
Travis Snider could still be an impact bat if he gets it going soon.
The Blue Jays have a lot of talent on their roster, but are in real need of more starting pitching if they want to present a serious challenge to the Yankees and Red Sox. Jair Jurrjens could slot right into the No. 2 starter slot behind star Ricky Romero, and Martin Prado could give the Jays a second baseman after trading Aaron Hill and potentially losing Kelly Johnson to free agency. The Blue Jays' system is loaded, and that makes this deal a possibility.
If the Jays are to include a current big leaguer, it may be 24-year-old left fielder Eric Thames. Thames made his major league debut this year and hit .262/.313/.456 with 12 homers and 37 runs batted in during only 95 games with the Jays. While he's no star, he's a solid hitter with decent pop.
The other current big leaguer who could interest the Braves is outfielder Travis Snider, a former top prospect who will turn 24 years old before the 2012 season. Snider hasn't lived up to the immense hype yet, but he hasn't been awful, and a change in scenery could bring out the potential inside. In 799 big league plate appearances, Snider has hit .248/.307/.423 with 28 homers and 104 runs batted in. If Snider shows why he was ranked the No. 6 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the 2009 season, the Braves would have a major steal.
If the Braves look to prospects, then the Jays may be asked for five-tool outfielder Anthony Gose, a raw but talented player expected to play in Triple-A in 2012. Jake Marisnick is another five-tool outfielder, but he is further from the big leagues after spending 2011 in Low-A ball.