Who can give up equal value for Jair Jurrjens?
Since rumors keep flying that the Braves are shopping Jair Jurrjens, now is a good time to take a look at the teams who could be willing to pay what the Braves want for their All-Star starter.
This article takes a look at six teams that are both in need of a pitcher in the Jurrjens-caliber and have right combination of players that the Braves would be interested in.
The Braves could be interested in Jurickson Profar.
After falling in the World Series last year, the Rangers went out and signed top third baseman Adrian Beltre on the free-agent market to improve their chances at winning it all. After falling in this year's World Series, the Rangers are in need of high-level starters—especially if ace CJ Wilson departs as a free agent.
The good news for the Braves is that the Rangers are absolutely loaded in the minor leagues. The Rangers farm system has a little bit of everything; from talented hitters and pitchers to players close to the Majors and players in the lowest levels of the minors, they don't lack much.
The Rangers have plenty of players that could interest the Braves. Third baseman Mike Olt is a strong hitter and defender likely to start the year in Double-A after a strong Arizona Fall League appearance. He could be ready for the majors late this season. Olt would give the Braves a potential replacement for the aging Chipper Jones—something the Braves don't really have anywhere close to the majors. Since Olt is blocked by Adrian Beltre in Texas, this would make sense for the Rangers.
Although he's a top 10 prospect in the game, shortstop Jurickson Profar could be moved since the Rangers also have a talented young shortstop in the majors in Elvis Andrus. The Braves do have a strong prospect already in Andrelton Simmons, but Profar is a whole different level of good. He's only likely to start 2012 in High-A, but he could see Double-A by the end of the year.
The Rangers' need for pitching, as well as the fact that they could be bidding against the Yankees and Red Sox, means that there's the potential for a bidding war. It's safe to say that they have the right combination of talent and talent that would interest the Braves to make them a good partner.
Jesus Montero could be a part of a deal in the Yankees seriously want Jair Jurrjens.
The Yankees strive to build championship teams each and every year, so every year that they fall short is a disappointment. That means that this year was a disappointment, even though the Yankees were surprised by the late retirement announcement of pitcher Andy Pettite and scrambled to assemble a rotation just to get by.
The Yankees' 2012 rotation has two parts set in ace CC Sabathia and second-year hurler Ivan Nova. If talented Phil Hughes rebounds from a lost season, the Yankees would have three strong pieces to the rotation. The rest of their rotation is a question, as they won't want to have to count on past-their-prime former aces Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, and AJ Burnett is an enigma that comes through as often as he fails to.
The Yankees have the talent to land Jair Jurrjens if the Braves' front office believes that super-prospect Jesus Montero can play left field. Montero is a guy the Yankees will look to trade because they don't want to play him at catcher for defensive reasons and Mark Teixeira blocks him at first base. If the Braves could live with some bad defense in the outfield next to standout defenders Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward, they may be able to land a potential middle of the order run producer.
The Yankees have nowhere to put Montero and are rumored to be willing to deal him for a strong pitcher. The rest of the Yankees' top minor league talent is at positions the Braves don't need, like pitcher and catcher, and they don't have any players at the Major League level they could be willing to deal.
Josh Reddick could help the Braves outfield.
The Boston Red Sox are in a transition period with a new front office and a new manager yet to be named, but if one thing is needed, it's starting pitching. With John Lackey out for 2012, Daisuke Matsuzaka out for at least the first half and Erik Bedard very injury-prone, the Red Sox don't have much behind Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
The Red Sox have some players who could fit the Braves' needs in big leaguers Ryan Kalish, Ryan Lavarnway and Josh Reddick, along with prospects Will Middlebrooks, Brandon Jacobs and Bryce Brentz.
Reddick had some success in the majors this year, hitting .280 with seven homers—although he may need to be part of a package and not the center-piece of the deal. Same goes for Kalish, who was hurt for most of 2011. Lavarnway came up as a power-hitting catcher slash first baseman and could be a middle-of-the-order hitter if Frank Wren thinks he could work in left field. Since Lavarnway is a Yale product and hard worker, it's not impossible to imagine this scenario.
Out of the prospects, Middlebrooks is the top prospect in the Boston system, and the potential Chipper Jones replacement is a strong defender with the ability to hit as well. Jacobs and Brentz are both outfielders with nice combinations of power and speed, with Brentz being closer to the majors and Jacobs being the higher ceiling of the two.
Boston does not have an elite-level player available but they have some pieces to package. A bat like Reddick, who could hit .280 with 20 homers if he played everyday, and a replacement for Chipper, like Middlebrooks, may interest the Braves enough to deal Jurrjens.
Juan Francisco has very good power and would offer the Braves a replacement for an aging Chipper Jones.
The Reds have been looking for starting pitching for quite a while now, so that makes them a team on the list to chase Jurrjens. The Reds had three starters who made at least 13 starts last season with ERA's over 5.00, which is the reason that they missed out on a playoff spot this season despite a strong offense.
The Reds farm system is very strong, something that could make starting center fielder Drew Stubbs available. Stubbs hit 15 homers and stole 40 bases this season after hitting 22 homers as a rookie in 2010. Stubbs is a good defender who could be the answer to the Braves issues in left field. Having Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey and Yonder Alonso could make Stubbs available if the Reds believe Dave Sappelt could be an everyday starter.
If Stubbs isn't available, the Reds still have other players who could interest the Braves. Zack Cozart could be ready to fill in as the Braves' starting shortstop in 2012 if he's recovered from Tommy John Surgery on his non-throwing arm. Yonder Alonso has the potential to be a .300 hitter with 20 homers if the Braves can live with below-average defense in left field. Power-hitting third baseman Juan Francisco could eventually be a replacement for Chipper Jones after showing he can hit at the Major League level.
The Reds have a boat-load of talent, but the bulk of it is in the form of pitchers and catchers. They do, however, have plenty of pieces that could really interest the Braves, as well as having a real need for a Jurrjens-caliber pitcher.
Seth Smith could be a player the Braves like.
After trading Ubaldo Jimenez because they got an offer too good to pass up, the Rockies are in the market for another strong starter to build their rotation around. With the need for an impact-level pitcher, the Rockies could be willing to pay up with a bat for Jurrjens.
Outfielder Seth Smith could help the Braves, and some Internet rumors indicate the Braves are interested in Smith. Smith, who hit .284/.347/.483 with 15 homers, 59 runs batted in and 10 steals in 476 at bats in 2011, is in his prime as a 29-year-old, and he could improve those numbers if he received everyday at bats.
Smith would only be part of the deal, along with one of the Rockies' hitting prospects. Nolan Arrenado is the Rockies' top hitting prospect, a potential replacement for Chipper Jones with a power bat and improving defense. Outfielders Charlie Blackmon, Kyle Parker and Corey Dickerson could also interest the Braves.
The Braves would be smart to try to get Smith and Arrenado in a package for Jurrjens, and the Rockies could be willing to give up both players in the deal. With Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler and Todd Helton to build the lineup around and pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa (once he returns from injury) already in the rotation, the Rockies could be one or two players away from contending in the NL West.
Slugger Travis Snider could make sense for the Braves.
Toronto has a powerful lineup and may be a couple of strong pitchers away from contending in the strong American League East division in 2012. General manager Alex Anthopoulos is going to try to land someone to fit into his rotation, along with ace Ricky Romero and talented-but-inconsistent Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil.
The Blue Jays have among the best farm systems in the game and have some players who could interest the Braves, but it's Travis Snider who could really be a nice fit. Snider is a former top prospect who hasn't lived up to his hype and may need a change of scenery to reach his potential. In 232 career games, he's a .248/.307/.423 hitter with 28 homers and 104 runs batted in. If Snider reached his full potential, he could potentially end up as a cleanup hitter down the line.
Five-tool outfielder Anthony Gose could interest the Braves if they think they will lose Michael Bourn next year. Gose is a very strong defender with plus speed and the potential to be a leadoff hitter. Jake Marisnick is another five-tool outfielder, although he's further away and his ceiling may be a bit lower than Gose's.
The Braves could be interested in a package where they acquire Snider and Gose, giving them a steal if Snider breaks out. This also makes sense for Toronto, because adding an All-Star pitcher and getting full season's from Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus and Rajai Davis could make a team that won 81 games this season very dangerous in 2012.