According to ESPN.com Buster Olney, the Atlanta Braves may consider trading infielder Yunel Escobar, and pitcher Javier Vasquez, in order to acquire a big bat in return.
The Braves currently rank 22nd in the majors in runs scored and 20th in OPS could certainly use a big offensive addition. However, parting ways with Vasquez (who would immediately become the best pitcher on the market) might be tough to do given the fact that the team is only three games behind the NL East leading Phillies.
The emergence of Tommy Hanson has certainly given the Braves some flexibility within their rotation, which makes the idea of moving Vasquez somewhat possible.
The Braves by all indications don't have much payroll wiggle room, so it's believed that any sort of trade would have to be a dollar-for-dollar type deal. That alone greatly reduces the chances of anything realistically happening.
Starting pitching has steadily become a premium item in this current market, and given the lack of available depth, a player of Vasquez quality could be an extremely valuable commodity. In Escobar's case there are several teams that are looking for added help in the middle infield, which could give the Braves multiple suitors for his services. Here are six teams Olney believes could be potential options.
On the surface it looks like the Red Sox could be the perfect trade partner for the Braves. Only problem is it would most likely require them involving a third team. The Braves are looking for a big bat, and the Red Sox have no obvious trade choices in that department, however, they have what every other team wants and that's pitching. Here are some scenarios.
They could engage the Brewers about Corey Hart, or the Indians about someone like Shin-Soo Choo or Matt LaPorta. The Red Sox could flip a pitcher to another team, and that team could flip a hitter to the Braves. Boston also could eat a lot of money on Julio Lugo's contract and hand him over to Atlanta, as a short-term stopgap at shortstop.
This could be a real easy swap. Braves send over Escobar, who would fill a much needed void for the Royals, and the Royals send over Mark Teahan, whose solid offensive production and versatility would be a perfect match for the Braves. In addition if the Royals eat some of the contract of Jeff Francouer the Braves could include him in the deal. Apparently Royals GM Dayton Moore has liked Francouer for some time.
The Brewers definitely would have no interest in Escobar, but acquiring Vasquez would be intriguing for them. They have plenty of big bats on their team, but don't expect them to part with Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder. An obvious choice would be moving Corey Hart for Javier Vasquez.
Have a few expendable pieces that they could move for Escobar Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span or Delmon Young. Look for Span to be the likely choice if the Braves elected to deal with the Twins, however, it doesn't seem to be a great match for either team. I'm not sure Span fits the mold of "big bat", but he does have big upside, so who knows.
They would love to add someone like Vasquez to their rotation especially after loosing Derek Lowe in the offseason. They have some real quality young bats, but I can't imagine them trading any of them. Juan Pierre could be a name that interests the Braves, he bat .318 during Manny Ramirez absence, but in all likelihood the Braves would be looking for more of a power hitter.
Matt Holliday alert! Matt Holliday alert! The A's would certainly be interested in acquiring Escobar, who could be a long-term solution for them at shortstop. In exchange the A's could give up Matt Holliday and Orland Cabrera (could fill shortstop position for the Braves short-term), and the A's probably would be willing to eat a bit of their salary as well.
In the end if I had to pick one team who is the best fit it has to be the Boston Red Sox. While understandably deals can become more complicated when trying to involve a third team, everybody wants the Red Sox's pitching. I'm not sure what they have in Jed Lowerie, and I'm not sure it matters because he's not as good as Escobar. However, all word out of Boston is they are not going to be making any deals until they have a better understanding of Mike Lowell's injury. I guess we'll just have to wait and see, at that point it might be too late.
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