With Chipper Jones and now Indians pitcher Derek Lowe both coming off of their payroll next year, the Braves will have some money to play with on the free-agent market this winter.
But still uncomfortable by the results of the 2009 offseason, when they acquired Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami on the free-agent market, the Braves might use some of the money budgeted for the future to address their needs on this year's trade market.
I read that as saying the Braves, in any trade, might try to get creative about how they pay the player or players they acquire; asking that their salary be deferred til next year. That's a complicated, and potentially risky game to play. Complicated because you have to essentially get the player's approval for every trade and negotiate with the player's agent to work out the deferral, meaning the team might actually pay more for the player they are acquiring than would be remaining on their contract.
It's also a risky strategy to kick the can down the road like this. We're already paying $10 million to a pitcher who is not on the Braves roster. Every baseball executive should have learned from the Mets mistake with Bobby Bonilla; New York is still paying him deferred salary more than ten years after he left the team, and they will continue to pay in more than a million dollars a year for the next 20 years.
Those risks and complications aside, the ability to add a major piece or two to this Braves team could be the difference between the team making the playoffs and once again missing the post-season by one game. Atlanta could use another veteran starter to pair with Tim Hudson, and it's looking more and more like they need a reliable eighth inning guy to get them to Craig Kimbrel. These two possible acquisitions won't be cheap, in salary or prospects, but if that's what it takes to make this team a consistent contender this season, then moves should be made, because the team we have right now doesn't seem to be getting it done.