Only three teams– the Rockies, Tigers, and Phillies– declined to participate in the transaction frenzy that concluded on August 1’s non-waiver trade deadline, which means that, yes, even the lowly Braves were in on the action.
One of the clearest messages the trade-deadline market communicated was that contending teams (or teams that fancied themselves contenders, anyway) were willing to pay a premium for relief pitching. Atlanta did send pitchers Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez to Texas in exchange for Travis Demeritte, an infield prospect who starred across from Dansby Swanson at this year’s Futures Game, on July 27. They skipped the more obvious opportunity to sell high on the momentarily resurgent Jim Johnson, however, especially considering the fact that he’s a free agent after this season.
Instead, in the words of Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan, the Braves “exchange[d] toxic assets” with the Padres by trading infielder Hector Olivera for Matt Kemp.
It’s been tough to find people who think this was a good trade for the Braves. Kemp was good, once, five years ago, when he provided 8.3 fWAR in 161 games for the 2011 Dodgers. Since then, he’s been worth 4.8 fWAR total from 2012 through August 2, when he made his Braves debut at Turner Field:
Kemp’s still being paid like he’s an eight-win, MVP-caliber player, but he’s playing like a half-win, DL-caliber player. He can’t run. As he demonstrated for the crowd in his Atlanta debut, he can’t defend. His bat, his only potential weapon at this point, is less consistent than that of Justin Upton, the last consequential left fielder to wear a Braves uniform. Still, when Kemp received a standing ovation from the home fans (who, to my eyes, were outnumbered by a surprisingly large cadre of Pirates fans) when he came to the plate for the first time in the bottom of the first, it so confused the Pittsburgh players that Jace Peterson, who was on first after walking to start the inning, easily stole second. So maybe there is some hidden value there.
But really, what’s the Braves’ plan with this move? Continue reading
I was hoping that this article would still be topical by the time I started writing it yesterday night, and lo and behold the only free agent of consequence to sign on November 3rd was Juan Rivera. I have literally no idea who he is. I watch at least a hundred Mariners games each year (MLB.tv FTW), plus a good number of Phillies games and even as much of a Tigers game as I can stomach now and then. Between that and fantasy baseball, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on who’s who in the MLB and I had literally no idea who this guy was.* So basically he wasn’t going to be on this list anyway.
Here is a list of ten of the top free agents and where I think they will sign:
2011 team: Cardinals
2012 team: Cardinals
Why: Everyone has been jawing all season long about Pujols testing the market, but I think a lot of that was ESPN puffing the subject up so they had something else to talk about during Sports Center besides whether Tom Brady having longer hair than Aaron Rodgers makes him a better QB. When all is said and done, I think this is going to turn out like the Matt Holliday-STL deal where there weren’t a ton of other serious suitors for the money and the player didn’t want to leave St. Louis anyway. Add in that two of the big free agent spenders, the Yankees and Red Sox already have top tier 1Bs and you don’t have anyone to seriously compete with the Cardinals at the price Pujols wants. So in the end St. Louis will end up overpaying a bit, talking heads who said that Pujols would sign for 300 million will complain about how St. Louis overpaid, St. Louis fans will complain about how they overpaid, but inside everyone will be happy.
Outside shot: Real Madrid? At that price, I don’t know.