I suspect the Braves GM will go the free agent route to secure a LF, but if he can’t land, say, Shane Victorino, he could deal from strength.
The emergence of Luis Avilan gives the Braves three dependable southpaws in the ‘pen, and newly acquired Jordan Walden, a right-hander, has held lefties to a .206 BA and .620 OPS over his career. I’m not sure what Jonny Venters or Eric O’Flaherty would fetch in a trade, but consider the current climate.
Jeremy Affeldt just signed a 3-year, $21 million contract with the Giants. Last year, the A’s acquired Josh Reddick, who hit 32 HR and won a Gold Glove, for oft-injured Andrew Bailey. Relievers have rarely been more valued, especially if they’re left-handed.
Trading O’Flaherty makes the most sense. He’ll be a free agent after next season, and considering the Affeldt deal, you can bet 2013 will mark the end of his time in Atlanta. He’s only 27 and his 1.95 ERA over the last four seasons is among the best in baseball. Despite his erratic 2012 campaign, JV would likely also net a decent return. He won’t be a free agent until 2016, making him potentially more attractive to clubs desperate for relief.
I’d prefer to keep both, but if FW can’t find an adequate LF via free agency, trading EOF or JV might be his best option. One possible trading partner: Milwaukee, who’s reportedly hot for a LH reliever. The Brewers have also been mentioned as a landing spot for Josh Hamilton, and if they signed him Norichika Aoki could be available.
Aoki, a Japanese League standout, batted .288 as a 30-year-old MLB rookie, with a .355 OBP, 30 SB, 10 HR and 37 doubles.