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Atlanta Braves Trade Assets

When Cliff Lee was traded to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak, it represented the first big move of the 2010 season. Generally, the first big move pries open the trade market. With little else going on in baseball during the All-Star break, it's a good time for all teams to discuss what kind of moves they'd like to make, and the players they'd like to add. Instead of merely discussing what players the Braves could and should be looking for (which is done exhaustively elsewhere), I just want to take a quick look at the players the Braves might consider trading away to upgrade their big league team.

Julio Teheran, Freddie Freeman, and Arodys Vizcaino are all either untouchable, or just short of it. The Braves won't be moving any of those unless they feel that they're getting a bona-fide star player in return. Before the injury to Vizcaino, these were the unanimous top three prospects in the Braves' system, and probably still are even in spite of it. Vizcaino's value certainly takes a hit when you're talking about "partially torn elbow ligaments," but that just gives the Braves less incentive to trade him. There's a chance he comes back even this year and resumes to dominate, so getting rid of him now would be selling low.

Mike Minor is a tradeable asset. It has been discussed thoroughly on Talking Chop, but I'll quickly go over the reasons once again. He's close to being Major League ready, but he doesn't seem to have a place in the Atlanta Braves' rotation either this year or next. He's showcasing a dominant fastball that is much better than expected coming out of Vanderbilt, and scouting reports say he's getting away from his mediocre curveball in order to focus on his fastball, slider and change-up. The extra velocity on his fastball has made him less a precision lefty and more of a strikeout pitcher, which increases his value greatly because there are so few lefties with dominant stuff. He has the trade value to be a centerpiece in a significant trade.

Jordan Schafer is also a candidate to be moved for the right piece. He's still struggling at the plate as he attempts to recover his swing from a pretty devastating wrist injury. Even though he's only hitting .207/.260/.262 at Gwinnett, he is still a plus defensive centerfielder, and he used to be the Braves' top prospect. His value hasn't completely evaporated, though he's certainly not near his peak. He doesn't have the value to be the centerpiece of any big deal, but he could the extra player who tips the scale for a blockbuster.

On the big league roster, the Braves clearly have 6 starters, all of whom are good enough to fill rotation spots for at least 25 other teams. The two most likely trade candidates are Kenshin Kawakami and Jair Jurrjens. The Braves would undoubtedly love to move Derek Lowe and his $15 million annual salary, but it's unlikely they'll find teams any more interested than they did during the offseason. Jurrjens has plenty of trade value, as he's under team control for the next three seasons and has two consecutive season of being an above average starter in his resumé. The combination of youth, talent, and affordability would bring an excellent return in trade value. He could conceivably be moved for a top prospect as teams grow desperate at the deadline, but it's unlikely he does move without bringing back a legitimate starter. Kawakami has some value as well, despite the relative cost, but not nearly as much as JJ. He might be able to fetch a pair of B prospects, or he could packaged with some prospects for a second tier position player.

Randall Delgado is unlikely to be moved if only because he doesn't get the attention deserving of his status. Being the third-best pitching prospect on just the Myrtle Beach staff, he's overshadowed by guys receiving a lot more hype. I can't say for certain how he's valued by GMs around the league, but it's hard to believe he's been scouted as frequently or enthusiastically as Teheran and Vizcaino. An argument can be made that he was a better prospect than Vizcaino even before the injury. If he's moved, the Braves should expect a substantial return.

Competitive teams don't generally sell off pieces off their bullpens, but the bullpen at Gwinnett could potentially be raided by opposing teams. Craig Kimbrel, Mike Dunn, and Cory Gearrin are all solid relief prospects and could probably all contribute to some team's bullpen this year. Kimbrel is the only one who could reasonably be dealt by himself -- relief prospects don't carry a lot of value. But any of these three could be added to a bigger package for any of the Braves' trade targets, especially Kimbrel, who could step in as the 7th inning guy or maybe even the set-up man for a contending team.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.