Rebuilding Braves could match up with Cubs again and other musings

Rebuilding Braves could match up with Cubs again and other musings

After the stunning trade of Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, it is clear the Braves are in full-fledged rebuilding mode.   The two teams have matched up twice, both involving Arodys Vizcaino.  The first Vizcaino deal came on the heels of an infamously botched trade of Ryan Dempster for Randall Delgado.  So there is some rapport there.  The Braves have shown a willingness to negotiate fair value trades.

That said, who might the Cubs target?

Well, we know the Cubs have been targeting young, cost-controlled pitching and we have heard Julio Teheran's name come up but another  target could be Shelby Miller, a pitcher the Cubs have shown some interest in in the past.  Miller does not become a free agent until after the 2018 season, so there would be 3 years of control, making him a good fit with Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.

Miller had a breakout season of sorts with the Braves, posting a 3.4 WAR season on the strength of a 3.45 FIP.  Miller can throw in the mid 90s and adds a cutter, CB, and change to go with average command.  He would profile as a #3 starter with the potential to be more if the command improves.

As for what it would cost, there has been speculation that the Braves covet Jorge Soler, which potentially leaves a hole unless the Cubs are willing to move Bryant to RF and Javier Baez to 3B.  We should also note that the Braves just traded a young star shortstop, so they may  be looking for a replacement, though shortstop Ozhaino Albies is the team's top position player prospect in what is a strong system overall.

Another option would be to have Nick Markakis included in the deal as a potential OF replacement.  Markakis fits as a left-handed OBP/high contact type (10.2% walk rate/12.1% K rate, .370 OBP in 2015) and could conceivably bat leadoff.  Markakis was once considered a very good defender with a strong arm, but the defensive metrics have not been kind since the 2010 season.  The lack of power is also a concern with Markakis, though power isn't something the Cubs lack.  He is also reputed to be a strong clubhouse presence, something the Cubs seem to value highly.

The remaining contract (3 years/$33M) is reasonable for a contending team, though probably a burden on a rebuilding team like the Braves.  For the Cubs, it's not an ideal solution but it is not a terribly costly one and, as we have said, an ideal solution probably does not exist at this point.

Of course, Miller (or Teheran) would be the prize in any  potential deal with the Braves.

Other News and Notes

  • Free Agent/Trade Prediction Contest: Thanks to Tim (Breaking the Curse) for setting up a Google Doc spreadsheet with all the predictions for this offseason.  Here is a link to that sheet.
  • In a Patrick Mooney piece, Theo Epstein talks the offseason and the temptation to build a super team over the next two years, but he seems to be leaning toward keeping a balance and opening the window longer.  One thing seems certain, don't expect the Cubs to get tunnel vision and locked into a situation where they "must have" a certain player.  I look for them to explore all options until they stop making sense.  And some of those options will stop making sense rather quickly.
  • I still wonder if the best compromise on the market -- should the Cubs go that way -- may be Jordan Zimmerman, who will cost about $100M less than David Price and potentially gives the Cubs a top 3 starter, perhaps more.
  • There is still the possibility  that the Cubs big money expenditure on pitching is an extension for Jake Arrieta.
  • Of course, the Cubs will have interest in Ben Zobrist, but they'l have to get in line.  Zobrist fits the Cubs in terms of the type of hitter they lack and also in terms off the kind of flexibility they want to have on their roster.
  • It appears that Davey Martinez is out as a candidate for the Dodgers job.  That is good news for Joe Maddon and the Cubs.
  • Look for upcoming pieces on Jeimer Candelario and Rob Zastryzny on Northsiders Report/

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  • Johnj, Braves have lots of young pitching-in addition to Tehran and Miller, they just received Newcombe , so now does the likes of Max Fried or Tooki Toussiant become available?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I've heard the Cubs liked Fried when he was an amateur.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Soler is probably the last cub I would consider trading. I believe he will be an MVP one day. He's a monster, a bigger, stronger Clemente. We just scratched the surface in 2015. Obliques are a lingering malady that hindred him greatly. His record setting performance in the post season was a tasteof what we have there.
    That being said, I think the fans, including me are all in for Price. I was, like that for the catcher that went to Toronto and had a so so year. I was less enthusiastic about Lester, and he showed my why. I agree that there are some sleepers out there that might be enough to maintain our momentum,without spending $200million, but Price is the real deal, and a perfect fit who wants to play here, just as everyone else does these days. Who wouldn't? For the first time in my memory this is the prize destination for title hungry players.. I never thought that would happen in my lifetime.

  • Baez also matches well with the Braves. They could use him at 3B. Tyrell Jenkins and either Miller or Teheran would be fun. Obviously there would be additional parts and pieces to make it work.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Some good matchups there. Cubs obviously want pitching depth at all levels.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I have been working on an unsolicited article that goes up to a 40,000 level using a discipline called business and competitive analysis (BCA) regarding the Cubs front office attempting to develop an evaluative and prediction model. Unfortunately this week I had both professional and personal commitments have greatly interrupted this individual effort. The discipline is something I would participate in when I was engaged in private equity acquisitions, venture capital backed efforts and then earlier in corporate new business development and acquisition. Those endeavors were over a decade to almost twenty years ago but the discipline remains, (though I am sure that it has evolved and refined like Sabrmetrics has continued in its sophistication since Bill James began writing his annual books).

    The point is I realized that my non-alcoholic drunken fan centric nature to who and what the Cubs could and will do this off season was so inebriated in wishful, naive wishes for the Cubs to assemble the next version of the 1950's Yankees.

    The larger point is that an Epstein-Hoyer led front office is far more transparent and predictable than some think. What you John tactically anticipate moving Bryant to RF then potentially moving Baez to 3B is more than obvious.

    Cubs love options and Maddon demands versatility with fiscal management. The other criteria is managing the control of impact players and being able to move contributor status and role players attempting to then add additional impact players.

    What BCA does is identify decision making behavior within the framework of financial assets/limitations/obligations identifying an organizations ultimate strategy. It is something that is not part of the new Sabrmetric lexicon.

    Anyway, in my view a trade that includes Soler along with minor league prospects identified as not impact players for contributing cost controlled starting pitching is pretty transparent. A move of Bryant to RF and Baez to 3B improves both the OF and IF defense regardless of who is acquired for CF and who is chosen to primarily man 2B.

    Here is a further thought. Presume the Cubs are able to deal Castro as the dust settles with the NYMets, Cleveland, San Diego and even the LA Dodgers and NY Yankees seeking to improve their 2B. Cubs have La Stella who is a left handed grinding bat and fair enough defender but probably more of a role player. Wondering if a player like Darwin Barney is not offered arbitration or the Cubs make a minor deal to gain a top defensive and versatile glove for the infield.

    All these moves reflect the strategic decision making approach of Hendry-Hoyer. Not signing Heyward or Zorbrist or possibly even Gordon (unless the Cubs fully commit to Schwarber to catcher and look to move Montero's $14M).

  • In reply to Gator:

    Of all the Cub's assets. I have felt that Baez could be the right one to convert. Castro proved that he belongs here. He accepted his demotion with exactly what was hoped and should be rewarded for it. Baez still lacks discipline at the plate He improved, but not enough IMO.

  • Would love to see a Miller/Markakis for Soler+ deal.

    Wold kill two birds with one stone. A lead-off hitter who gets on base; improved defense; and a young arm that would be cost-controlled and slot in perfectly behind Arrieta/Lester.

    It's the type of creative deal that Theo/Jed have emphasized all off-season.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Markakis would make a decent lead-off guy, but his defensive numbers are slipping badlty. Right now, hes almost like Soler as a RF, and definitely not a CF.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    A really hideous idea.

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    I hope they trade for a pitcher like Miller AND sign someone like Zimmermann. I've always like Markakis, but how would that OF situation look with him in the fold?

  • Extending Arrieta early is silly unless they get a big discount.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    I agree. Arrieta just had a huge increase in workload/innings pitched last year. I'd like to see how he performs this year after that increase before shelling out $30 million/year on Arrieta.

  • John, who would you prefer regardless of cost between Teheran, Miller, Carrasco, and Salazar?

  • In reply to AJWorld:

    Not John but I know a think or two about the indians. Their asking price for either us pretty up.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Kevin, whom could you see the Wahoos asking for for Salazar or Carrasco? Id have to imagine eiither Baez or Soler as a starter, they are set in the middle If with Lindor and Kipnis as starters, Baez would be a big upgrade at 3b tho. Ursual can field but cant hit, Chisenhall is now an OF.

  • In reply to AJWorld:

    That is hard to say. Would depend on cost. In a vacuum, probably Salazar but the price would probably not justify a trade if someone like Miller comes significantly cheaper.

  • Really don't want to trade Soler, and definitely not without a guy coming back to projects as a 1 or a 2. A solid guy just doesn't do it when there are so many solid guys on the FA market.

    We'd actually be taking on a bunch of salary in that deal too. Miller + Markakis really doesn't cost much less than Soler + Zimmerman. I know which I prefer.

    As much as I hate to say it, I think we need to deal Javy.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    Miller can easily be a solid 2.

  • Saw this trade on a Cleveland Indians site and had to share. I'm shaking my head at "no chance in hell" but what do I know...

    Cubs Receive: Carlos Carrasco, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Clint Frazier, Eric Gonzalez
    Indians Receive: Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Jorge Solar

  • In reply to Matt682:

    Indians wouldn't touch that one.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    KG, do they like Frazier that much? Ive heard some McCutcheon-type comps with him, but 3 potential major impact bats for one proven big league hitter and one MOR starter is far too much on our end

  • In reply to Matt682:

    Negative, you dont trade Schwarbers power . Frazier has potential, but long-term I see Schwarber as a bigger impact. Kip would be redundant here. Chisenhall is a platoon Of who cant hit lHP. Carrasco I like as a #3, but trading 3 potential starting position players is far too much.

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    In reply to Matt682:

    Don't think the Cubs touch that one either....

  • In reply to Matt682:

    Absolutely insane!

  • I like the idea of getting Miller more than Teheran (although I wouldn't be upset getting Teheran either). Miller was impressive last year and would look great as a solid #3 for us who can pitch better than that at times. I also like Jordan Zimmerman and think if we go at the top tier in the FA market, it will be him b/c the price is not insane like 210 million or more.

  • In reply to Cubswin2015:

    Imagine how much better Miller would have been though with the type of run support the Cubs are able to provide

  • Shelby Miller & Nick Markakis to the Cubs,...... have liked Markakis for several years although (yes) his defense has been more suspect the last few years.

    For Soler and ????? in return is the question.

    Would the Braves be interested in somebody like Ian Happ or Zagunis? Would they have a place at 1B for a guy like Vogelbach? Freddie Freeman is pretty solid when healthy - but has got to be within a year or so of FA and was injury-plagued last season.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Freeman is a stud and the face of the franchise. The Braves could trade anybody else but not Freddie. Also he just signed an 8 year extension this past year.

  • In reply to TD40:

    Ahhh,... forgot about the extension,.... never mind.

  • In reply to TD40:

    They were saying about Simmons... See how that turned out.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Rumors that Cardinals want Freeman.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The Cards could use Freeman as they're a bit thin at 1B after Adams and with Piscotty is probably a better answer in the OF and Moss isn't a long-term answer.

    Maybe shopping Vogelbach to Atlanta isn't such an odd idea then?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I think John Hart would want someone better defensively than Vogelbach. Plus I don't believe they will trade Freeman.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I don't think there is a whole lot of interest in Vogelbach, to be honest. Think most see him as an AL player and all would like to see power play better in games.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Freeman to cards scares me... Cards need to get weaker not stronger... His bat would make up for losing heyward for them.

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    Zimmerman and maybe a trade is one way to go. Although maybe Shark and another pitcher (e.g., Lackey, Leake) is even better. And maybe both approaches would allow them to re-sign Fowler?

  • Shelby Miller would be nice to really deepen this rotation...especially with a FA pickup like Zimmermann. The fact that these 2 front offices have already worked together on a few deals makes me believe there is possibility here.

    Always depends on the asking price, but Miller on this team with run support could be an amazing get. The Braves simply did not score any runs for this guy last year. The stuff is there and working with Bosio, I feel, will only strengthen his command.

    What do you guys think the realistic upside comp for a Shelby Miller?

  • It's starting to look like re-signing Fowler is becoming more of an option every day. There just aren't many great solutions out there. They could front load the contract a little or just realize at the end of the deal they might be eating some of it to send him away. Offer him 4/$65 and see where that gets you. I;m not sure it gets it done but it might.

    I like the Miller and Markakis for Soler plus idea. Maybe there's a three team deal possible that sends Castro somewhere and gets the Braves a piece they want. Now you've basically turned Castro into Markakis taking on only $3 mi, $2mil and $0 AAV for those three seasons you have him. Given arbitration you might be taking on $4 million with Miller. Including Fowler you've now spent about $23 million. Sign Samardzija at $15 and you're basically filling all your holes and have added $38 mil per or about $7 mil more than Price alone would have cost. Now you have this:




    That's getting a lot of things done in a few moves. Of course it won't be nearly that easy but that's not undoable.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Nice thoughts but whose playing 2nd base ? Prob meant to sub Baez in for Soler right ?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Yep. Baez. Oops.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Frankly you could still really afford Zimmermann in that scenario so you go for him and fallback to Samardzija. Either way that team would be the favorite in the Central Division.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Fowler CF
    Schwarber LF
    Rizzo 1B
    Bryant 3B
    Markakis RF
    Montero C
    Russell SS
    Baez 2B



  • In reply to TC154:

    I would hate to lock us in to a 150 strikeout, mediocre defensive center fielder for 4 years.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I'm not so sure I disagree except that he did fit in well with this team and I the options are few. You could sign Span with injury concerns for 3 years for around $39 million I think. The K rate's lower but the risk is higher. I was all about Span on a pillow deal but 3 years at $13 mil per? I don't know. Maybe you make a different deal with Atlanta instead of a 3 team deal to move Castro and instead move him for a CF? Like I said the options look very limited.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Heck, why not try for a home run.

    Red Sox get Castro, Vogelbach, Coghlan, mediocre prospect from Braves
    Braves get Soler, Hendricks + mediocre prospect from Red Sox
    Cubs get Miller, Markakis, Teheran, JBJ, Pedroia (take on his full contract)

    We collect our draft pick for Fowler. Sign Zimmerman

    Markakis RF (Bryant backs him up)
    Pedroia 2B (La Stella backs him up)
    Schwarber LF (could back up catcher, Bryant backs him up in LF)
    Bryant 3B (Baez backs him up)
    Rizzo 1B (Bryant backs him up)
    Russell SS (Baez backs him up)
    Montero/Ross C (Schwarber in an emergency)
    Bradley Jr. (Szczur backs him up as our 5th OF)

    Teheran/Hammel (I think Teheran has options left).

    We have gained young, controllable pitching, have taken on salary but each of the next 3 years signficant salary that will be coming off the books:
    After 2016: No more Edwin Jackson
    After 2017: No more Montero
    After 2018: No more Markakis

    This is just a spit-balled idea but it is fun to think about.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    It is fun but the Braves will want a ton give up Markakis, Teheran and Miller. Soler and Hendricks won't be even close. They will want Torres, Underwood and Baez too. And maybe more.

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    In reply to TD40:

    Like I said, it was just spit-balling for fun. I did about 15 seconds of thought and no research.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    possibly moves to lf when schwarber moves to catcher, still valuable as a high obp switch hitter? I would probably cap at 4/56.

  • Zimmermann has had his TJ already so he has gotten that out of the way. I love his motion. It seems so fluid without much effort at all. Perhaps I get too fixated on the strain on the face of Greinke when he throws, but I see some effort to pitch as fast as he does. His motion starts slow and then as he begins to come to the plate he explodes forward at a rapid pace, whereas Price and Zimmermann seem to have consistent pace to their deliveries and the ball seems to come out of their hands so effortlessly. I am not saying it is a max effort delivery for Greinke. I'm just saying Price and Zimmermann have more fluid deliveries to my eyes. Samardzija too. Those guys have easy heat.

    Outcomes are a different story. Looking at Kinematics, Chris Sale is awful but what he does with his messed up mechanics is amazing. Greinke is straight to the plate and clean. I just worry he loses steam sooner than the others due to age, use to date and amount of effort.

    With any of these 4, the Cubs would not go wrong.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Remember Grienke took ayear off baseball also, so he has that working in his favor. He also doesn't throw as hard, his change is pretty much his go-to pitch now. Hasn't thrown really hard since3 he left Milwaukee.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    Good point. I agree. I think of all the tier 1 pitchers that Grienke will hold up the longest, IMO, he's the best " pitcher " of the bunch, so as his natural stuff slips, I believe he will still be able to get outs.

    Also, it almost seems like he's getting better as he ages ( to what point, yea I know, got to end at some time real soon ) which we cannot say about the others.

    Plus at his age and already having received a pretty large payday, perhaps a 4 year deal w a high Avg $ will get it done whereas Zimmerman and Price are both looking for 6 yr min, perhaps 7

  • Would the Braves consider Baez at short?

  • Put Lester in the trade. Keep Soler, he could be a future superstar?

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    No one will take on Lester's contract, and Lester isn't going anywhere. The Cubs didn't give him that contract to trade him a year later.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Agreed. And why would any rebuilding team want Lester?

  • John,
    Am out here watching AFL games. Are you at the Solar Sox games? It would be great to meet you.

  • In reply to peabodydg:

    I should be there tomorrow, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Just stop me and say hello. I tend to be all over the place but usually behind home.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cya tomorrow at Sloan

  • In reply to peabodydg:

    See you then. May have to leave early as we do have a commitment later that day.

  • Digging deeper into the possibilities of this potential matchup with the Braves, I think that Shelby Miller for Jorge Soler is at least a pretty close to even trade.

    The deal would likely expand however, and that is where it gets interesting.

    A deep deep prospect in the Braves system I would LOVE to acquire is Mallox Smith, a speedy left handed hitting CF who is in triple A for them. While his hit tool is rumored to be questionable, he is a high average, high contact, patient hitter who plays a premium position and who has blinding speed that plays right now. It is easy to imagine someday seeing him become a strong side of a platoon in CF and giving us good production at low cost.

    If any of our prospect gurus have any thoughts on Smith, I'd love to hear them.

  • In reply to thunderbird1245:

    I saw him play once and he can flat out fly. But I don't think the Braves are looking to trade their prospects. They want to trade their veterans.

  • Tho it's fun to speculate I've started to ask myself why change? You only need a #3 pitcher. Nothing wrong with keeping Hammels and Hendricks as #4 & #5. Remember they won 97 games. If Bryant, Russell, Schwarber, Baez and/or Soler improve offensively how much more is needed? Get a defensive CF like Almora, stick him out there and get on with it. Get a #3 starter for cash and the sky's the limit. Pretty simple Theo.

  • In reply to veteran:

    That won't get it done. The Cubs will have been thoroughly scouted over the winter. 1 pitcher might be enough but there are some lineup problems and of course they need a CF.

  • In reply to veteran:

    vet, you are exactly right. We need to get some pitching for cash only. IF we keep all our young hitters including Castro, a 3 time all star who Ron Santo thought was the greatest thing since sliced bread, we can rotate the young hitters, keep them fresh for the playoffs, and as protection against injury. Very simply, this ain't rocket science. We are 0 and 2 when trading with the Braves for Vizcaino. Tommy La Stella is not a major league fielding second baseman and has not proved to be much of a hitter either.

  • In reply to shalin:

    I think you make some good points...the only one I'd disagree with is that given an entire season (400 or so AB's), I think Tommy LaStella is going to be a really good hitter. Great plate discipline, gap power, and I think he'll develop into a 10 HR guy as well. He wont kill you with the glove either, and his speed is at least average. Not to mention, he passes the "ball player eye test". Just my opinion....I do like your suggestions.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Good points.

  • Haven't they actually completed 3 deals? The 2 involving Vizcaino, and also the Russell and Bonifacio for Caratini trade.

  • In reply to DirkDiggler:

    Correct. So we got Caratini for nothing.

  • In reply to DirkDiggler:

    I forgot about the Caratini/Russell/Bonifacio deal. Thanks.

  • Wasn't Miller a bit of a headcase going through the Cardinal's system? Just wondering what kind of clubhouse guy he is.

  • In reply to kevie:

    I live in Braves country. For what I have seen and heard, he was a great clubhouse guy. That's despite getting little run support and the bullpen blowing many of his leads.

  • Fowler declined his QO.

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    you say miller or teheran would be the top prizes as far as the cubs are concerned. I can see that, but I can also see a different view: rather than get 1 pitcher with some proven MLB results, why not go for volume and get 2 or 3 unproven pitching prospects. The Braves system is pitching rich, including many of their top prospects. Why not structure a deal where the cubs get 2 or three pitchers, cheap, who might be ready in '17 or '18 - and then throw money at 2 of Price/Samardzija/Chen/Leake/Kazmir/whoever for next year.

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    Theo's old boys beat him and his new boys to the Kimbrel Lottery

    Redsox have now beefed up their bullpen w a top 5 closer ( Prob more like top 3 )

    What's the next Domino to drop......

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Yeah but they also just gave up their entire farm system for him.

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    In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    Entire farm system ? I know your exagerating w hyperbole but come on man, Manuel Margot, Logan Allen, Javy Guerra, and Carlos Asuaje doesn't even put a dent in their system.

    Guerra is blocked by this guy name Boegarts ( that's if he makes it ). Margot is blocked by a few guys including a really good guy named Mookie Betts. The other 2 guys are organizational filler who won't make it to the show IMO ( but I am NL prospect guru like John and others ). Margot is the big piece in the deal, and hopefully for SD he pans out.

    For a team w a bottom 5 bullpen in baseball, an improvement was mandatory and this is a good start.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Benintendi takes over as the redsox top OF prospect now and they have no place to even play him when he's ready.

    A lot of people like him, and he could be ready real soon.

    Cashner or Ross. Come on down

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Closer to a salary dump?

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    more like getting back what Preller traded last year. His trades last year killed the depth in there farm system, and this is the 1st step to re-building it. Just think, Margot goes from an afterthought in Boston to a likely mid-seasom callup in San Diego.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Yes of course I'm exaggerating. Point is, San Diego got a huge haul for him, and I wouldn't want to give up a comparable amount out of the Cubs system. And if they got this out of the Red Sox in mid-November, I can only imagine what they were demanding of Theo & Company at the trade deadline. Discretion is the better part of valor. And so we move on. Plenty of other bullpen arms are out there.

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    Red Sox give up 2 top 100 prospects and 2 others in their top 30. What does that equal in Cubs prospects--Torres and Contreras, McKinney and Underwood maybe.
    It sounds like everyone is going from SD. What does Ross cost vis-a-vis Cubs players?

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    I think SD had to move salary

    Kimbrel and Benoit - accomplished that.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    18 m saved this year. Im hearing SD wants to get to a max of around 120m in salary this year, they likely need one more salary dump.

  • Jorge, Gleyber, and Candelario for all of the Braves' pitchers...

  • What I'm seeing here is a lot of Brock for Broglio talk.

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