Recent days have featured several Braves rumors. Some involving trading Jason Heyward and shopping any number of other players like Evan Gattis and/or Justin Upton. Last night Joel Sherman of the Post reported that the Braves intended to make Gattis their everyday left fielder which, gah, let me get my medication before I watch that 100 times next year. Less viscerally, that suggests a trade of at least one outfielder.
All of this taken together suggests to David O’Brien of the AJC that the Braves are punting the next year or two and doing a rebuild of sorts in anticipation of moving into their new ballpark in 2017. And new vice president of baseball operations John Hart seems to be leaning that way if the Braves can’t get some immediate help with their starting pitching:
“We obviously have all options open, and I think a lot of it’s going to be dictated by what we’re able to do in the starting-pitching market . . . What we’re able to do in the starting pitching market, that is going to, I think, fully engage us as to what we do in 2015, if we want to come back with a somewhat intact ballclub. And then obviously if we can’t do that, there’s other options that we’ll certainly examine.”
It seems off to me that a team one year removed from a 96-win season and with several young players under team control for an extended period of time would choose a wholesale rebuild right now. Which isn’t to say things are wonderful and changes shouldn’t be made. Injuries and uncertainty with starting pitching does mean that the Braves could use a starter or two. Trying to find some way to get rid of B.J. Upton or to at least work around him is important. There are issues here that need to be solved.
I guess I’d just say that, if you’re going to rebuild, freakin’ rebuild and do so in a way that maximizes return. That means just understanding that B.J. Upton is an utter lost cause and sunk cost and not trying to bundle him in some deal because doing so necessarily lessens the return. That means trading what may your most valuable asset — Craig Kimbrel — rather than hoping he’s still dominant three years from now. It also means making sure the parts you keep for 2017 are still likely to be good and useful in 2017. Which, in my mind, does not include Evan Gattis as a left fielder, even if he can wrestle the position to a draw for a year or two in the meantime.
Lots of uncertainty with this team. And, hopefully, some seriously open minds in the Braves front office, focused on maximizing the return and shooting for true contention, not some piecemeal deals that solve one problem only to create another.