Atlanta acted quickly to remove Derek Lowe and his salary from the books, dealing him to Cleveland, and now Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the Braves have told teams they’re willing to trade Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado.
Bowman writes that the Braves would like to free up some additional salary to pursue free agents and together Jurrjens and Prado are likely to earn around $10 million in 2012 via the arbitration process.
Knee problems limited Jurrjens to a total of 268 innings during the past two seasons, but according to Bowman the Royals have already expressed interest in the 25-year-old right-hander and in turn the Braves have expressed interest in outfield prospects Wil Myers and Lorenzo Cain (although realistically Myers is probably off-limits).
Prado’s production plummeted this season, as he hit just .260 with a .687 OPS following three straight .800 OPS campaigns. He’s unlikely to fetch a huge return in trade, but could certainly help plenty of teams with infield openings. Even after the down season Prado is a 28-year-old career .293 hitter with a .775 OPS.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.