As they have the last two seasons, the Braves are expected to be contenders this year. Their main competition is expected to come from the Washington Nationals, but I would still pick the Braves.
However, I'm less certain of that today. The Braves may lose Kris Medlin to injury long term and now it appears that Brandon Beachy may be having some issues.
Should the Cubs pounce?
The Braves were rumored to have shown some interest in Cubs Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija this past offseason and with the Cubs seemingly no closer to an extension, does a trade between the two teams make sense?
Theoretically yes but in practicality, no.
Here's the thing...
The Cubs reportedly did not ask for the Braves top prospects -- they asked for arguably their top 2 young MLB players (either Justin Upton or Jason Heyward)
If you're a win now team like the Braves, it makes little sense to trade a signifcant part of your offense. If you look in terms of value metrics such as WAR, it's pretty much a zero sum trade for the Braves, perhaps even a loss. Both players are younger than the Cubs pitcher and both have the same amount of cost control.
So why would the Cubs have even bothered to make such an offer? It tells me they aren't nearly as eager to trade Samardzija as some fans are. They made an offer that they had to have known the Braves would reject.
It also tells us a couple of things:
1. The Cubs may think they're closer to contention than we assume. They're asking for MLB or near ready MLB talent in return for Samardzija -- not just in this trade, but also in talks with other teams.
2. They aren't all that crazy about the Braves upper level minor league prospects.
The Cubs see their prospects coming soon and they should start to filter on to the 25 man roster over the next two years. They seem to have no intention of weakening the current roster until (and if) it becomes necessary. The Cubs want their young talent to be surrounded by young veterans. And if you intend on taking one of those young veterans away, then they are going to ask you to replace that value -- not with future assets, but with assets that also contain some short term value.
I do not see this latest development with the Braves as affecting the Cubs because I don't expect either side to change their stance since the last time they talked. The Braves are not in a position to give up current MLB value. It seems to me they'd be better off giving up the draft pick to sign Ervin Santana or trade for a lesser pitcher that will cost them secondary prospects -- perhaps an out of options arm or deal from a team's depth. If the Braves do end up making a trade with the Cubs, I could see a minor deal involving an arm like Carlos Villanueva before I see them giving up top young talent for Samardzija.
- Emilio Bonafacio, SS
- Ryan Kalish, CF
- Nate Schierholtz, RF
- Mike Olt, 1B
- Donnie Murphy, 3B
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Ryan Roberts, 2B
- Eli Whiteside, C
- Jeff Samardzija, SP
What to Watch:
- Ryan Kalish is getting some time in CF this spring which increases his value. With Ryan Sweeney suffering an injury of unknown severity yesterday, Kalish could get an opportunity to impress.
- Emilio Bonafacio is leading off once again. There's no question that the Cubs feel he is the best candidate for that role and even though he won't win a starting spot barring a trade, I expect him to get a lot of opportunities to play multiple positions and fill that role during the season. He may also benefit if Sweeney is out longer than expected.
- Mike Olt is in the clean-up spot and is playing the field, though it's still at 1B.
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