Back in August I suggested the Braves trade JJ to the Royals for third base prospect Mike Moustakas. Then, last week, I pulled a Romney, saying “a bolder move, such as trading JJ, will have to wait until Tommy Hanson is back and pitching pain-free,” though I did pitch a Martin for Carlos Quentin deal.
Turns out both JJ and Prado are available. Mark Bowman reports the Braves “have informed some teams they might be willing to trade [the former All-Star’s]. Both players could see their respective salaries rise from the $3 million range to the $5 million range through arbitration this offseason.”
Bowman mentions the Royals as a potential trading partner, noting the Braves’ interest in right-handed hitting prospects Lorenzo Cain, a speedy CF late of Milwaukee’s system, and converted OF Wil Myers. Cain, acquired in the Zack Greinke deal, had a .312 BA and .877 OPS along with 16 SB in Triple-A last season. The 25-year-old Valdosta native is ready for prime time, though he’s stuck behind Melky and Francoeur in KC (not a reflection on Cain’s abilities as much as the surprisingly productive campaigns lodged by the two ex-Braves).
Myers has the greater potential. Baseball America ranked him 10th among all prospects last winter but the 20-year-old struggled at Double-A in 2011, hitting just .254 with a .754 OPS. Scouts and talent evaluators aren’t worried, however, blaming his underwhelming performance on a variety of nagging injuries. He’s bounced back nicely in the Arizona Fall League, batting .367 in 16 games with a .506 on-base percentage and .700 slugging percentage.
Two prospects doesn’t sound like a fair return for two established veterans in their prime, though I doubt the Braves could get Cain and Myers for just Jurrjens. If they were to unload both players for cheaper bats they’d have $15 to $20 million to spend, perhaps on a Michael Cuddyer or Carlos Beltran.
Of course if Prado was traded FW would have to find a decent back-up for Chipper. How ’bout free agent Wilson Betemit, late of the Royals and Tigers? The ex-Brave phenom has driven in 89 runs and homered 21 times in his last 161 games with a BA over .290 and OBP just shy of .360.
Trading JJ would be risky, and you’d assume, coming off injury, his value would not be at its highest. But with C.J. Wilson the biggest name on the free agent market and few starters of note available via trade, JJ might fetch more than he’s worth.
It’s worth exploring, but neither NEEDS to be traded. If FW can bolster the offense by dealing JJ, he should do it. Especially for a platinum prospect like Myers.