It has been rumors galore the last few weeks regarding the Atlanta Braves and their alleged search for an outfielder. With the 2011 trade deadline just a few weeks away, the rumors are going to be flying left and right in the month of July. In my opinion, the Braves need to be focusing on one outfielder: Michael Bourn.
Bourn doesn't exactly fit the description of a player the Braves are rumored to be looking to acquire. While he has been linked to the club in recent weeks, he isn't a power hitter, doesn't play left field and he bats left-handed. The team will certainly take whomever they can to bolster their lineup, but they might be looking at other players in the meantime.
Bourn needs to become an Atlanta Brave. There are quite a few reasons why...
For one, Bourn isn't going to cost a ton of money and the prospects needed to acquire him wouldn't need to be great. He's owed just $2MM through the rest of 2011 and he'll likely earn $7-10MM in 2012 as he reaches his final year of arbitration. That isn't exactly pocket change, but it's a small fee to pay for one of the better center fielders in baseball. And don't forget Nate McLouth's salary will be coming off the books this off-season as well.
The Braves won't be able to acquire the speedy center fielder without giving up a good prospect or two, but he wouldn't require one of the players deemed nearly-untouchable by the Atlanta front office, who are likely Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Edward Salcedo.
Despite both McLouth and Jordan Schafer displaying brief flashes of improvement in June, neither of them should be starting for a club who just won their 50th game on July 5. McLouth is the better hitter and Schafer is the better defender; Michael Bourn is a better hitter than McLouth and an equal-or-better fielder than Schafer. Combine that with being the best base stealer in Major League Baseball and he brings the entire package.
And finally, Bourn is a really good baseball player. He's coming into his prime and hits well, has a pretty decent on-base percentage as a leadoff man, can absolutely fly on the base paths and covers a ton of ground in the outfield. He would instantly give Atlanta the leadoff man they desire and wouldn't create a logjam in the outfield with Martin Prado.
Make it happen, Frank Wren. Get Michael Bourn to Atlanta.
On the hunt for a reliever...
Despite having the best bullpen in baseball (and by a pretty wide margin), the Braves need to look to add a right-handed reliever to bolster their bullpen. The club currently has Cory Gearrin, Scott Linebrink and Scott Proctor as their middle inning, right-handed options. That isn't going to work for the next three months. Proctor has no business being on the roster, and while Gearrin and Linebrink have been solid in limited duty this year, you just never know when injuries or a slump will appear.
While there is a chance both Peter Moylan and Kris Medlen could return to the bullpen sometime in the next month or two, they're both coming off major surgery and could struggle as they make their way back. Adding a proven, established right-handed reliever will improve the bullpen even more, give Medlen and Moylan plenty of time to recover and give Fredi Gonzalez much more flexibility as September and October roll around.