Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Three-Team Trade Thoughts To Seriously Improve Atlanta's Lineup

Our lineup seems to be clicking, but the question always has to be in the back of Braves' fans minds - "What can we do to improve it so we can be consistent and not face the inevitable slumps that always occur with so much swing-and-miss in our lineup???" We're all well-aware that you seldom find teams that line up well enough to pull off three team deals - history has shown that. However, here's one take on one that just might work - a little outlandish or not.

The Dodgers' OF logjam is getting perilously close to causing problems in their clubhouse - 4 guys that should be playing every day (potentially 5 if you want to include Scott Van Slyke), with Joc Pederson deserving of a spot soon (if not already). The Red Sox are in dire need of OF help, particularly in CF - Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't getting it done for them, and he may well turn out to be a 4th OF - and given Clay Buchholz' struggles, they could use a proven arm to help in their rotation that will allow them to hang onto their younger arms (for further development or bigger deals down the road). The Braves would love a potential long-term answer at 2B - it doesn't appear that the organization's willing to commit consistent playing time to either Tyler Pastornicky or Ramiro Pena, and one has to wonder if they really feel Tommy La Stella can be better than either since they haven't promoted him.

The Dodgers obviously have money to burn, and the Sox doesn't have any long-term financial concerns. Many "experts" have linked the two teams as potential trade partners, but most think that the player Boston wants is the one that Los Angeles would prefer to keep if given their preference - Matt Kemp. Resident Dodgers' "homer" Jim Bowden maintains that his feeling is that the Dodgers' quiet shift of Kemp to LF tips their hand a little, believing that they eventually want to wind up with Kemp in LF, Pederson in CF, and Yasiel Puig in RF. This leaves Andre Ethier as the other CF that could be moved - the problem there is that Ethier's a questionable defender in the rather simple dimensions and angles in Dodger Stadium to begin with, making him a poor choice to deal with the odd angles and Green Monster that faces Red Sox' CFs. Most pundits view Carl Crawford as the Los Angeles OF with the least tradeable contract.

Could the Braves potentially get involved and improve all three teams' situations by doing so? While it takes a bit of a fantasy baseball GM to follow all the moving pieces in the scenario I'm going to propose, I do feel that there's a way that Frank Wren, Ned Colletti, and Ben Cherrington could hammer out such a deal if you could lock them all in a room for a little bit.

So here we go - I'll list the players involved followed by what each team's lineup would look like following the deal for everyone's perusal...

Dodgers Get: Dan Uggla, Christian Bethancourt, and Joey Terdoslavich

Red Sox Get: B. J. Upton, Scott Van Slyke, Gavin Floyd, and Cody Martin

Braves Get: Carl Crawford, Grady Sizemore, and Mookie Betts

This shakes the teams up to look like this following the trade...


LF- Carl Crawford
RF- Justin Upton
1B- Freddie Freeman
C- Evan Gattis
CF- Jason Heyward
3B- Chris Johnson
2B- Mookie Betts
SS- Andrelton Simmons

BENCH: Gerald Laird, Ryan Doumit, Ramiro Pena, Grady Sizemore

SP- Julio Teheran
SP- Mike Minor
SP- Ervin Santana
SP- Alex Wood
SP- Aaron Harang

Reason For Making The Deal: The Braves get their long-term answer at 2B and clear the salary space to take Crawford's contract on by dealing Dan Uggla and B. J. Upton away. It also allows them to maintain enough MLB-ready pitching depth for the rotation since David Hale can be sent back down to be stretched back out.

Los Angeles

2B- Dee Gordon
3B- Hanley Ramirez
RF- Yasiel Puig
1B- Adrian Gonzalez
LF- Matt Kemp
CF- Andre Ethier
SS- Alexander Guerrero
C- Drew Butera

BENCH- Tim Federowicz, Joey Terdoslavich, Justin Turner, Dan Uggla

SP- Clayton Kershaw
SP- Zack Greinke
SP- Hyun-Jin Ryu
SP- Dan Haren
SP- Josh Beckett

Reason For Making The Deal: The Dodgers move their most "unmovable" contract, clearing the way to move Ethier in a deal for prospects when a team where he fits better presents itself (Seattle maybe?). They save money (swapping Crawford's deal for Uggla's) while helping to clear the way for Pederson's eventual promotion as well as allowing them to promote Guerrero and slide Ramirez over to 3B since Guerrero's a natural SS that they've been trying to convert into a 2B. It also provides them a quality switch-hitter to replace Van Slyke as their 5th OF and backup for Gonzalez at 1B and their Catcher of the future in Bethancourt.


CF- B. J. Upton
3B- Xander Bogaerts
2B- Dustin Pedroia
DH- David Ortiz
1B- Mike Napoli
RF- Jonny Gomes
C- A. J. Pierzynski
LF- Scott Van Slyke
SS- Stephen Drew

BENCH: David Ross, Mike Carp, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jonathon Herrera

SP- Jon Lester
SP- John Lackey
SP- Gavin Floyd
SP- Jake Peavy
SP- Brandon Workman

Reason For Making The Deal: Upton has shown signs of finally coming around of late, and is certainly a better defensive CF option than Ethier. Sizemore is capable of playing CF, but given his propensity for injury, he's seen most of his time in LF of late to save wear and tear (not to mention he hasn't been particularly productive either). Van Slyke would give the Sox a bat with serious pop that will lengthen their lineup and can fill in for Napoli at 1B whenever needed. Floyd significantly improves their rotation immediately with a proven successful commodity against AL competition and allows the Sox to hold onto their young arms (with the addition of Martin) that can be combined in a potential package for Jeff Samardzija - the Cubs are one of the few MLB teams with the IF/OF depth already present in their system where Betts wouldn't necessarily be needed.