Sunday, November 30, 2014

Looking at the A's/Braves Rumor

Shortly following the trade Oakland finalized Friday with the Toronto Blue Jays, rumors began to circulate that the A's were also looking at acquiring both Justin Upton and Evan Gattis from the Braves. Obviously, this isn't the first rumor we've heard on either player. The Mariners and Rangers are in the Upton sweepstakes while the Marlins are supposedly intrigued by adding Gattis. So, why not ship them together and attempt to bring back a monster haul?

My first thought was that this rumor makes little sense. The A's are backlogged in catcher/first base/left field/DH types. So far this winter, they've already added Ike Davis and Billy Butler to go with three catchers, Brandon Moss, and Craig Gentry. Adding Upton and Gattis to that mix could only complicate things.

Meanwhile, the trade would almost certainly signal once and for all that the Braves are truly rebuilding. The rumors of Jon Lester gave us pause, but losing all of their right-handed power to go with Jason Heyward would likely be too much to overcome.

With that in mind, is there any way to make Upton and Gattis to the A's make sense for the Braves? Maybe. While a name like Jeff Samardzija has been mentioned, that wouldn't help the Braves compete in 2017 as the former Notre Dame wideout is a free agent after this upcoming season. Of course, a three-way trade could make moving Samardzija more sensible as the Braves would be the dumping ground for prospects from a pair of teams in that case, but I don't want to complicate things too much.

For me, the deal has to start with Josh Reddick. The A's starting right fielder certainly has question marks. He has struggled to stay in the lineup the last two years following his 2012 breakout campaign that included a 4.5 fWAR. Reddick has two remaining years of team control so the Braves could even try to flip him later on if they don't feel they can ink him long term. He's not a great hitter and won't completely replace Heyward, let alone the offense given up in this trade, but he has posted a wOBA of around .330 in three of the last four years. He'll probably get about $4M in arbitration this season.

While it would seem like John Jaso is the better player, I am taking Stephen Vogt back in this trade as well. Vogt is a complimentary piece who posted a solid .329 wOBA last year while catching, playing right, and making cameos at first and in left. Another left-hand hitter like Reddick, Vogt might be better as, and I hate to say this, a National League player who can do a bunch of things. He would provide the Braves with insurance in case Christian Bethancourt's bat is a problem and give the Braves depth three other positions.

Left-hander Dillon Overton would provide me some hope from this deal. Overton was expected to be a much higher pick, but the A's got him in the second round due to concerns that eventually led to surgery. When he finally toed the rubber last year, he looked awesome in limited action, striking out an outstanding 53 in 37 innings. More amazingly, he walked just four. How fast he moves is dependent on him, but the former Oklahoma Sooner ace could surprise me as soon as 2016.

Daniel Robertson, a shortstop from Upland High School in California, won't turn 21 until shortly before the 2015 season opens and hasn't played in AA just yet, but that may not keep him from knocking on the door soon. While his future in Atlanta would likely be at third base, he appears to have the arm strength to handle it. Last year in the California League, he slashed .310/.402/.471 and might be the A's only Top 100 prospect. If the power continues to develop, he could post similar seasons to Freddie Freeman from across the diamond.

Finally, the Braves still need a starter. While the A's lack much starting depth, if they are going to take all of our right-handed power, they need to pay the price. While it would be tempting to take a chance on Jarrod Parker, I'm going to aim for Drew Pomeranz. Are there concerns either way? You betcha, but I'm going to hope Pomeranz develops into the starter the Indians once thought he would be before the Rockies concurred as they picked him up in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.

To sum up...
A's trade P's Dillon Overton and Drew Pomeranz, C/1B/OF Stephen Vogt, SS Daniel Robertson, and OF Josh Reddick to the Braves for C Evan Gattis and OF Justin Upton

Do I like this hypothetical trade? Well, I don't hate it. Does it worry me? Absolutely and not only because of the questions around Reddick and Pomeranz. Robertson and Overton, the prospects in this trade, aren't going to confuse anyone with Taijuan Walker, who the Mariners are apparently considering in their talks to acquire Upton. A trade like this with the A's centers on taking quantity over quality unless - here's where it could get really intriguing - the Braves and A's aren't alone in making this trade. Involve a team like the Red Sox with their better prospects and this trade looks more interesting.

Either way, I'm just not sold on this kind of trade making sense for the Braves. Not even sure it makes all that much sense for the A's, but their moves this winter have confused me so far anyway.

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