As Mark Bowman describes it in the title of this piece, the Braves are looking at a "tricky" situation when it comes to their two most valuable trade chips, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. While it seems like both of these guys are probably on their way out (and trading one or both of these guys would probably benefit the future of the team), there is still a slight possibility that they both might still be in Atlanta for Opening Day 2015. I'll believe that when I see that. With the amount of interest that Justin Upton is generating on the trade market, it'd be smart to take advantage of that interest.
We all saw this coming, and yesterday the Braves made it official by bowing out of the Jon Lester pursuit. The funniest part is that while there are concrete numbers as to what the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs bid, the Braves bid was simply described as "less." I'm going to assume that they just offered to put his face on The Big Chicken out in Marietta.
If all goes well, both Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen could return from their injuries in May at the earliest. However, the Braves have a decision to make as to exactly how much faith they're willing to put in them returning and being productive, as Mark Bowman explains below:
For the saber-inclined fans out there, Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections are starting to roll out, and the Atlanta Braves are the first team to have their projections released. The good news? ZiPS is kinda bullish on the rotation. The bad news? If ZiPS is correct (and the guys who are rumored to be traded are indeed traded), our offense is going to be a hot mess.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Here's the Atlanta depth chart with <a href="https://twitter.com/DSzymborski">@DSzymborski</a>'s ZiPS WAR projections again, but w/o weird black background. <a href="http://t.co/2BL9g9VPge">pic.twitter.com/2BL9g9VPge</a></p>— Carson Cistulli (@cistulli) <a href="https://twitter.com/cistulli/status/539133768607739904">November 30, 2014</a></blockquote>
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After slugging his way through a 1-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles following being handed a Qualifying Offer last offseason, the 34-year old Nelson Cruz has finally obtained the multi-year contract that he'd been seeking, and he got it from the Seattle Mariners. Seattle will commit $57 MM for the next 4 years in order to have the aging masher on their team. Here's a taste of Lookout Landing's take on the deal:
Cruz still carries many of the same red flags he did before, including a skillset that doesn't age well. But his strikeout rate improved last year, he still showed substantial power and production outside of Texas, and seems to have eased some of the fears that were attached to him a year before. Still, the Mariners are clearly buying high here, trying to bolster their roster as they attempt to get over the top.