Monday, October 18, 2010

Braves Outfield Options

I have discussed Nate McLouth previously in depth and I believe the Braves will give McLouth every opportunity to win the CF job next spring.  My opinion is he's a left fielder masquerading with CF speed, but, given the market for center fielders (Colby Rasmus is really the only potential candidate we hear mentioned in trades), my guess is CF is McLouth's job to lose, so, the Braves are looking for an everyday, power bat for LF, preferably right-handed.  With McLouth, you will have Freeman, Heyward, McCann as lefties, and the Braves are going to need a right hander who can fill the 4 or 5 spot in the order. has the skinny on 2011 free agents and I posted on the 2011 class here.  Looking at other trade possibilities, let's look at the 2012 class, and see who might be trade bait.  The top 2012 outfielders are going to be (and here we'll look at all OF positions):

  1. Jose Bautista - After hitting 54 homers and 124 RBI's in an amazing 2010 (he never hit more than 16 in 7 previous seasons), Bautista's stock has skyrocketed. He's arbitration eligible and whether the Blue Jays are in a trading mood, probably depends on what he gets in this arbitration year.  He's a righty who could regress back to a middling power guy.  
  2. Josh Willingham - made $4.6M this year, and is arb eligible.  Hit 16 homers in only 370 AB's for Washington.  He has a great eye, with an OBP of .383 in 2010, career .367.  Again, Washington may be building around Willingham and some of their other good young players and be unwillinging to move him.  But, I could see a Lowe or Jurrjens for Willingham trade being done. Nationals get (in the case of Lowe) a seasoned vet for their young staff, and Braves get a needed RH power bat at a decent price.  The Nats have indicated a willingness to go after Cliff Lee, but they can't afford Lee.  Would they settle for Lowe?
  3. David DeJesus - Is a relatively weak powered left fielder.  He can play center, but, he's essentially McLouth, slightly better defensively.  Will make $6M in 2011.  I don't think he's a good fit, certainly not as the LF beside McLouth.
  4. Cody Ross - Now, we've seen what Ross can do in the playoffs, and he is a guy the Braves tried hard to get this year and lost out to the Giants.  He's arbitration eligible in 2011 and made $4.5M in 2010.  Don't know what the Giants may do with Ross.  They don't need pitching, and if the Braves had any good hitters to trade, they'd be keeping them anyway.  I don't think we're likely to see the Braves and Giants making any trades.
  5. Michael Cuddyer - Twins former first round pick is having arthroscopic surgery in the off-season.  His numbers have been all over the place in the bigs, mostly good.  He's signed through 2011 and will make $10M next year.  He's honestly not worth that kind of money unless he returns to 2009 form.
  6. Ryan Ludwick - struggled after the mid-season trade to SD.  He's got good power but strikes out A LOT.  Just an average outfielder.Made $5.5M in 2010, arbitration eligible in 2011.  Again SD doesn't need pitching, so not a good candidate for trade with Atlanta.

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