The Atlanta Braves are in the news today and over the past few days regarding their pitching surplus.
I wrote on the Kenshin Kawakami update via Mark Bowman earlier. The Braves have been set on trading Kawakami this offseason, and despite possibly some efforts by other teams in asking about him, nothing serious seems to have been reported. The Pirates were one of the targeted teams, and I made a plea to the Yankees at one point, but no serious reports.
The Braves surely can't be demanding much in return. Kawakami won't even be on the major league roster. I can go for days about how bad he was treated last season, not just for Kawakami's standpoint, but in the best interest of the Braves. His $6 million salary will likely demand a slight exchange of cash by the Braves, but in saving some money it should not be a problem, and therefore they should not be demanding a ton in return.
Buster Olney reported the Braves are attempting to deal Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez will not make the major league roster, and there is no motivation for the Braves to do so considering he is on a minor league deal. However, he is pitching depth, and you can never have too much. I figured all along that he would remain in AAA through the season as depth behind Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor, but if he is traded, the next in line behind those two is likely Todd Redmond, who can't really be counted on for more than a spot start.
Even worse, both Minor and Beachy are young arms who will need rest down the stretch, and that is where a veteran arm like Lopez could be valuable, even at below average production. We saw first hand that Minor is still working with stamina over a full season, and Beachy only has a year of experience as a starter. Both Lopez and Kawakami could prove valuable in that respect. Just because you have pitching depth doesn't mean you have to trade it. It's one of the most valuable aspects of a baseball team.
Whether Lopez could be included in a deal with Kawakami is not known, but the fact that both are in rumors makes the point come up. It's only a matter of time before something goes down, though, whether it's keeping them both in the minors, dealing one or dealing both.