The Braves may have lost their best outfielder to the disabled list until after the All-Star break, but this team does not seem content to sit around and sulk. There are rumors out there that the team is in hot pursuit of a right-handed outfield bat. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports has the scoop:
Atlanta officials are considering Josh Willingham (Washington), Corey Hart (Milwaukee) and Jose Bautista (Toronto), but it doesn't appear that any deal is imminent.
All three players will be free agents after the 2011 season. So, for the time being, their current teams aren't under extreme pressure to move them.
But they are earning reasonable salaries, making them attractive to Atlanta and other suitors. Bautista has roughly $1.2 million left on this year's contract; Willingham $2.3 million; Hart $2.4 million.
David DeJesus, a left-handed batter, is a less appealing option to the Braves.
The Braves are pitching-rich, and potential trade partners are certain to ask for arms in return. It remains to be seen whether Atlanta would deal away a top pitching prospect, such as Mike Minor or Craig Kimbrel.
The Braves have long been rumored to like Corey Hart, and to some degree Josh Willingham, but Jose Bautista is a new name being thrown around. All three are having career-type years, so the Braves would be trading for them at the apex of their value, and likely overpaying.
None of these guys, in my opinion, would warrant surrendering any of our top pitching prospects. While they are good and capable Major League hitters, none is quite a difference maker, and to give up our top prospects we would need to get a difference maker in return. I also shudder to give the Nationals any more pitching that we may have to face for years to come.