That is the question that looms over the head of John Schuerholz as the Tuesday non-tender deadline approaches. First of all there are very few teams that need a second baseman, and secondly there are even fewer who would be willing to pay Giles what he will likely get after arbitration. There is apparently no trade market for Giles, as has been expressed by several reporters, and which is now rather obvious seeing as how unloading him was one of our priorities this off-season. So if we can't trade Giles, what other options do we have?
Trading Tim Hudson would certainly clear enough payroll space for Giles to be affordable. The Giants could be a team interested in the services of someone like Hudson. They have lost out on all the free agent starters they have tried to sign this winter and may be in need of acquiring someone to fill the void. Hudson had success across the bay in Oakland, and there might be some in the Giants front office who would buy into the belief that a return to the bay area is just what Huddy needs.
It was suggested in a TC diary that we try and trade Edgar Renteria and use one of our young shortstops as a fill-in. If we go with Tony Pena Jr, then the offensive production from that spot takes a huge dive (but would it be a dive equal to that which we would take with any in-house replacement for Giles). Yunel Escobar could be a possible fill in for Renteria, but he's still not polished defensively and could cost the Braves in the fielding department at short. But offensively we could ask the question; if we were thinking of replacing Giles with Escobar anyway, why not replace Renteria with Escobar. Other than those two, there are no other viable Major League ready options in the Braves system to replace Renteria with at shortstop.
But would there even be a market for Renteria? Shortstop is traditionally a tougher position to fill, and it's not like we would be asking that much in return for Edgar, just a solid prospect or above average reliever to mainly get one of the big salaries off our books. Trading Renteria would also give us even more flexibility the following year when both Renteria's and Giles' salaries would be off our books (can you say more money to sign Andruw). The Cubs, Blue Jays, Astros, Twins, and our good friends the Mariners might be interested in an upgrade at the shortstop position.
Hudson and Renteria are really the only two options to trade to try and find salary space, everyone else is a 10 and 5 man who would reject any trade (Andruw, Chipper, Smoltz) or is untradable because they are coming off of an injury (Hampton). So we are faced with three options; (1) non-tender Giles and hope someone like the Mets don't pick him up, (2) trade him away for any sort of Scalamandre you can (he was the guy we got in exchange for Sosa), or (3) try and trade Renteria or Hudson to free up salary room to keep Giles. You never want to just give up a player - heck we found takers for Millwood, for Sosa, for Kolb, surely someone would want Giles. Well, not exactly, and here's why. Everyone in baseball knows that the Braves can't afford Giles and that they are more than likely going to non-tender him a contract on Tuesday, and so all they have to do is wait and try to sign him after we dump him.
Believe it or not, it seems like we could get the most value in exchange for Hudson - a trade that I think we should seriously consider. Now that the Marquis and Meches and Mussinas are off the market, there might be some teams that are more than willing to overspend in a trade the way they've been overspending on the free agent market - look at what we just got from Seattle in exchange for a "starter." So to the teams that lost out on the top, middle, and lower rung of starting pitching, Tim Hudson and his quasi-reasonable contract might be very attractive. I say try and rekindle some sort of trade of Tim Hudson, and keep Giles. It just doesn't seem right to throw away a player like Giles who has meant so much to this team and to the fans. If we can't trade Giles then trade one of the other guys, get something in return, and find someone to play left field and lead off.