07 December 2009

Leverage an potential opportunity . . .

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Braves are in need of right handed power, but may be hamstrung by their budget. It has been expressed for over a month that either Derek Lowe or Javier Vasquez would be moved with that power bat coming in as a return. Rafael Soriano complicates things even further. The Braves have just signed Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, using the money that was allotted last year to Soriano and Mike Gonzalez.

The Braves would love to rid themselves of the Lowe contract. Three more years and 45MM are left on that contract and Lowe did not look good this past season. His strikeouts were down and teams were getting more solid contact on him. Javier Vasquez has only one year and 11.5MM on his contract. He is also coming off a very solid year. He appears to be not only the one the Braves would like to keep, but also the one that would have more worth in a trade. Finally, Soriano looks to earn about 7MM in arbitration due to his role as a reliever last season.

More into possible deals after the jump.

What deals could happen?

1. Javier Vasquez to the New York Yankees for Nick Swisher
This one makes too much sense. The Yankees are in the market for a mid-tier starting pitcher and can get him for a player who is likely to have a slight down turn. The Braves on the other hand are able to acquire a switch hitting power hitter who can play the outfield corners or man first base.

2. Derek Lowe and Rafael Soriano to the Red Sox for Mike Lowell and Stolmy Pimentel
BoSox figure Lowell is a sunk cost already, so they are more or less paying Lowe for 3 years and 30MM. Not great, but Soriano gives them another solid arm in the pen. The BoSox have the financial wherewithal to swallow a bad deal.

3. Derek Lowe to the White Sox for Alex Rios + 5MM and Rafael Soriano to the Orioles for Luke Scott.
Braves benefit slightly by getting Rios as some of his cost is pushed back a couple years. He is also right handed and exhibited gap power two years ago. Luke Scott will also be cheaper than Soriano and provided a good complement to Matt Diaz in left field. The Orioles, looking to shore up their bullpen, could use Soriano as a closer . . . potentially signing him for two years in lieu of arbitration.

4. Javier Vasquez to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ryan Ludwick
Ludwick could provide a right handed bat that has shown power in the past. He struggled last year, so that might be reason enough for the Cardinals to feel OK with dealing him. Most likely, St. Louis will be unable to resign Holliday, so if you cannot score runs . . . might as well do your best to prevent them from being scored.

5. Javier Vasquez to the Milwaukee Brewers for Corey Hart
Hart feels like an early 00s Brave. Gap power and some athleticism. The Brewers are in dire need of starting pitching and have some power coming up in the form of Mat Gamel. Would help divert some cost.

6. Javier Vasquez and Rafael Soriano to the Orioles for Luke Scott, David Hernandez, Ty Wigginton, and Kam Mickolio
The Orioles get the starting pitcher and closer they want. The Braves get a platoon partner for Matt Diaz in Luke Scott. They receive David Hernandez who can be a low leverage middle reliever and spot starter. Ty Wigginton has shown he is capable of being a right handed power bat and can kind of play first and third base. Finally, Kam Mickolio is a young, cheap player with a live arm.

Derek Lowe's contract is so toxic that it would require an equally bad one in return. Teams that can take on a bad deal, like the Orioles, will probably not want to have to carry one for three years. It would require serious monetary considerations (which defeats the purpose for the Braves) or a severe loss of legitimate prospects (which also is probably not acceptable to them as well).

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