Atlanta Braves Morning Chop & Rumor Roundup
Phoenix General Manager Meetings Underway
Rather than a traditional Morning Chop of Braves’ news items today, it’s time for a roundup of the rumors and quotes that have been bandied about over the past couple of days, as many of these have big potential implications down the road… and the end of that road could come in December during baseball’s Winter Meetings. We’ll talk about the quotes, and what they might mean.
(Oh – why is Dayton Moore featured with a cover pic here? It’s because I can’t find new photos of John Hart and was tired of putting the same ones out there!)
Quotes from David O’Brien
DOB of the AJC has been very busy… yesterday in particular. All of these are quotes directly via his twitter feed:
- Hart on Gattis trade rumor: ‘Absolutely innacurate’ http://on-ajc.com/1AYa2Xr
- An AL scout told me his team would love to have Gattis.
- Same scout then asked if I’d ever seen anyone lose it as fast or completely as B.J.
- For those who asked, new
#Braves OF Zoilo Almonte exhausted minor league options while a Yankee, so he must make ATL team or clear waivers. #Braves want to add a LH hitter who could possibly platoon with 3B Chris Johnson #Braves plan on Peraza at 2B in yr, possibly sooner if needed. Think they can get thru till then w/ what they have, won’t spend $ on stopgap
- Probably needs more seasoning, but you never know — made big strides last year RT
@Jeff_Morris: @DOBrienAJC Is Kubitza an option? #Braves Hart said pitchers Shae Simmons and J.R. Graham are expected to be fully recovered from arm injuries before spring training.
Editor’s Notes on these:
- On the Gattis rumors… My take: despite Hart’s denials, there is too much ‘smoke’ for there not to be a fire. I do think Atlanta is shopping the Bear. The fact that there is interest will drive that to a trade, in my opinion.
- On B.J. Upton: see below in the Mark Bowman section.
- Zoilo Almonte signed a major league contract. Fred gave us nearly everything we need to know about him on Monday. Though he’s on a major-league deal (the Braves pretty much had to offer that to lure him away from other teams), he will – as DOB suggested – still have to actually make the team in Spring. Atlanta is (according to Mark Bowman) “aggressively seeking minor league free agents. Part of the reason is to short-up the farm system. Part of the reason is to hope to find a nugget while panning for gold … in a landfill (i.e., the guys we’re signing now were not protected, and there’s usually a reason for that). My take: I don’t think he makes the team – bench bat is his ceiling.
- The news bit of Chris Johnson is interesting. In 2014, he couldn’t touch RHP (batting avg. split differential of 164 points). In 2013, the difference was half that – 84 points (hitting .299 vs. RHP). In 2012 and 2010, though, the split was actually reversed 51 and 30 points higher vs. RHP. But fresh off of the contract extension, the Braves are now thinking “platoon candidate” – and the bad part is that only 1/3rd of his plate appearances come vs. LHP, so you might think his price isn’t worth playing only 1/3rd of the time. My take: trading block.
- Kyle Kubitza. I have been seeing reports that he has made strides in his defense, and therefore might be close to the majors. He’s also a LH hitter, but My Take: he’s not ready to be that platoon candidate. I don’t think his defense is ready, though his hitting might work (biggest hurdle will be – like La Stella – proving to the umpires that he knows the strike zone extremely well).
- Jose Peraza. This report exactly matches my own speculation. He will get a long look in Spring (likely sharing equal AB with La Stella), then start in AAA. Ideally, both players do well, but Peraza could be in the majors by June with La Stella demoted, benched, or traded by July (depending on TLS’ performance). The deciding factor could be the OBP of each player – Peraza’s isn’t quite there. When La Stella is “on”, his is close to .400.
- Shae Simmons and J.R. Graham… good news: this makes both of them candidates for the major league bullpen.
(22). Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
About Jason Heyward
- John Hart said
#Braves love Heyward, but doesn’t anticipate ext. in final year before FA: “My assumption is it’s probably the wrong time.” #Braves Hart added that wouldn’t mean they couldn’t sign him a year from now as free agent, just doesn’t think an extension will happen now.
- Repeat, he’s not saying
#Braves necessarily trade Heyward or let him walk, just doesn’t think extension happens inside last year before FA.
Editor’s Notes on these:
This should be scary to Braves’ fans. It’s pretty clear that Jason is an Atlanta Brave fan and wants to stay. I don’t understand Hart’s thinking. If you want the player, then you make the overture – put the ball into his court. Then you will find out. If there’s a conversation to be had, you’ll have it. If not, then we can take the next step.
Everything Jason has said to the media indicates that he is amenable to staying in Atlanta. Make the call, John.
Quotes from Mark Bowman
8 Points, 9 Seconds
Not to diminish Bowman’s work in any way, but I won’t be repeated information quoted above that DOB also had.
- John Hart: “We’re wearing some bad contracts. So you’re ability to play in the free agent game is going to be more restricted.”
#Braves have not been aggressively shopping any of their players. But they will listen to interest regarding J-Up, Heyward and Gattis
- Obviously AL teams would show the most interest in Gattis. But sounds like the
#Braves might keep Gattis’ power in LF
#Braves might take a calculated gamble on Medlen or Beachy with an incentive-laden deal. Both might be out until at least late April.
#Braves have released RHP Cory Gearrin, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April
- Cuban teen prospect Yoan Moncada to work out for all 30 teams in Guatemala today.
Editor’s Notes on these:
Atlanta Braves pitcher Cory Gearrin (53). Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
“We’re wearing some bad contracts.” Well, one anyway – two if you count Uggla’s deal (and they do count him). The obvious fallout is the add-on statement: any forays into the free agent market will be limited by the extent of the artificially-bloated payroll.
Contract tendering decisions must be made by December 2nd – a few days prior to the start of the Winter Meetings, so these calls have to be made early. Thus, the Braves may have to go ahead and roll the dice on Medlen and Beachy.
Unfortunately, there has been one casualty already: that being Cory Gearrin. He never really “took” in Atlanta, though had 3 attempts and a lot of optimistic promise. That was sad news, but his status essentially forced the issue.
I am breaking this topic out separately for a couple of reasons: first, Mark Bowman talks at length about Moncada here (I recommend this to you). Here’s why this could be interesting:
- Moncada is not the typically Cuban expatriate that we’ve been seeing come out of that country over the past 3-4 years. He is 19 and thus subject to the limits of the international player signing restrictions on major league clubs. Many of the clubs that usually spend big internationally have already blown their budgets… and then some. Thus, it is quite possible that the “next tier” of teams will have a good shot at landing Moncada. With Atlanta’s apparent renewed emphasis on playing in International waters, I would put them in the hunt.
- Moncada is a switch-hitting infielder, and though my first reaction was “What? Do we seriously need another infielder??”, I kept reading. It is reasonably possible that he projects as a third baseman. A third baseman with some power. A third baseman with power and speed. The Braves absolutely need this. So stay tuned. It wouldn’t happen for perhaps a few months, but it would be a real coup if Atlanta were to win his services… and I think Bowman wrote a lot on the subject because he’s thinking that, too.
Atlanta Braves Morning CHop – Wednesday, November 12, 2014