Braves take smart risk with Glaus over LaRoche

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I’m not a big fan of yesterday’s Javier Vazquez-for-Melky Cabrera (and prospects) swap from Atlanta’s point of view, but using some of the money saved on the deal to sign Troy Glaus to an incentive-laden one-year pact makes plenty of sense for the Braves.
Adam LaRoche was fantastic for the Braves after coming over in a July 31 trade for Casey Kotchman, hitting .325/.401/.557 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 57 games. No doubt Atlanta hoped to re-sign him, but with LaRoche reportedly looking for a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $30 million the Braves were absolutely right to move on.
LaRoche’s excellent second half led to his hitting .277/.355/.488 with 25 homers overall last season, which is remarkably similar to his hitting .270/.340/.500 with 25 homers in 2008. Toss in good defense at first base and that makes him a solidly above average all-around first baseman, but at 30 years old he’s not the type of guy at whom a cash-strapped team should be throwing $30 million.
Glaus missed nearly all of 2009 with shoulder problems and that makes him a question mark for 2010, but by moving from third base to first base his throwing is much less of an issue and he batted .270/.372/.483 with 27 homers in 2008. In fact, prior to the shoulder injury Glaus had posted an OPS above .800 in nine straight seasons, batting .259/.366/.513 during that time. He’s definitely a risk, but if healthy Glaus should be very similar to (and perhaps even slightly better than) LaRoche offensively for a fraction of the cost.