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Time to Sell High: Dallas Braden?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IJune 22, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16:  Dallas Braden #51 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 16, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 5-4 in ten innings.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

I'll admit this right off the bat: the argument in favor of trading Dallas Braden at the trading deadline is very out of the box. Braden, who will turn 26 in August, is putting together the best season of his young career this season.

Braden has a 5-6 record with a 3.26 ERA in 15 starts this season. His performance has been nothing short of stellar even though the Athletics have struggled to play consistent baseball this season.

Furthermore, Braden is not eligible for arbitration until 2011 and will not be a free agent until at least 2014. Obviously, there are lots of reasons why the Athletics should hold onto Braden.

Let's take a look at why it might make sense for the Athletics to look into moving Dallas Braden. In this marketplace, when so many teams are struggling to find a top flight starting pitcher, it does not look like any impact starting pitcher will be available.

Jake Peavy is hurt. Erik Bedard is hurt. The Indians will probably hold onto Cliff Lee. As it looks right now, the best starting pitcher, who might be traded is Jarrod Washburn. But in reality, he is nothing more than a No. 3 or No. 4.

So, with the market lacking impact starting pitchers, the Athletics should be able to maximize their return on Braden, who is pitching like an ace this season. Because the supply of available impact starting pitchers is low, but the demand for impact starting pitchers is high, the Athletics could conceivably have a bunch of teams very interested in acquiring Braden.

The return on Braden would obviously be very high because of his age, contract status, and performance.

Does trading Braden make sense for the Athletics? It could. There is always the risk that Braden's performance improves dramatically over the next few seasons and he becomes a top flight starting pitcher. 

On the other hand, the Athletics have the opportunity to sell high on Braden after just a couple months of solid pitching.

This would be a classic Billy Beane sell high trade that would turn the baseball world upside down.

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