SAD: A ludicrous proposal to trade two vital parts of Braves is revealed…

Insider hints at ludicrous proposal to trade two vital parts of Braves offense.

Insider hints at ludicrous proposal to trade two vital parts of Braves offense

Trading two of your best players for more “quality starting pitching” is the equivalent of trading your Porsche for a Toyota Camry and paying the other person $50,000.

The Atlanta Braves need starting pitching. They don’t have a strong farm system to trade for a quality starter. So… what can they do?

They could venture into the free agency market. While the 2023-2024 free agent pool is relatively weak, there are still starters like Aaron Nola, Jordan Montgomery, and Sonny Gray who could be excellent additions to the rotation.

Or you can trade two of your star players under incredibly team-friendly deals in a package for a starter with less team control and is more expensive.

Most rational fans would quickly recognize the absurdity of the idea, but Jeff Schultz of the Athletic thought it was something worth considering when he floated it in his most recent article. Of course, he said he “leaned” towards not trading either of them, but I leaned towards eating at home to save money before I spent $40 at Alamo Drafthouse the other day.

Instead of completely shunning the idea of trading Albies or Harris, let’s look at some trades for starting pitching involving the two Braves players since Schultz refuses to mention which “high-quality starters” are worth the Braves trading them for.

Trading Ozzie Albies is a bad idea…

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Over the last six years, the Atlanta Braves have developed a reputation for locking up players to incredibly team-friendly long-term contracts. Michael Harris II and Ozzie Albies might have the most team-friendly contracts in all professional sports.

Trading any of the players the Braves have signed long-term so early into their contracts would ruin any potential of the Braves signing future players to these types of deals. The Braves front office is able to sign star players to extensions because they’ve forged trust with the players.

Trading any of them on a whim because the team needs a hypothetical “high-quality starter” who would be worth trading them for would be tactically insane.

Ozzie Albies would have become a free agent after the 2023 season had he not signed his seven-year, $35 million contract in 2019 that also includes two team options for $7 million. Instead of making upwards of $20 million per season, the longest-tenured Atlanta Brave will only make $28 million total over the next four seasons.

Despite his contract and his role as a team leader, the Braves could theoretically make a trade if the price is right and replace him at second base with Vaughn Grissom, who is projected to put up a 1.0 fWAR in 2024.

According to FanGraphs, Ozzie Albies ranks 31st in baseball for Trade Value. There are only six pitchers who are signed for a longer duration than Albies. Two have recently gotten Tommy John surgery (Shane McClanahan and Sandy Alcantara) and one is his own teammate (Spencer Strider).

This leaves just three pitchers in all of baseball where trading Albies might make sense. George Kirby, Eury Perez, and Logan Webb are the only pitchers in baseball with a higher trade value than Albies. Each pitcher would require the Braves to not only replace Albies at second but also add prospects to the deal.

Perez has only 91.1 MLB innings under his belt, which wouldn’t be the established quality starter Jeff Schultz craves.

Webb is a Cy Young finalist this year and has been the anchor for the Giants rotation since 2021 but he just inked a long-term deal with the Giants earlier this year. Even if the Giants were willing to trade him (from a very weak rotation, mind you), the Braves would pay Webb significantly more than they would pay Albies and would need to replace Albies’ 4+ WAR production at second base.

Kirby has been excellent in his two seasons with the Mariners, but, like Perez, isn’t likely what Schultz has in mind when it comes to high-quality starting, especially when he’s willing to put so much stock in Michael Harris’s production in the playoffs.

Are these three high-quality starters? Absolutely. Could the Braves acquire them using Albies? Absolutely. Would it be worth trading a team leader on an incredibly team-friendly deal and replacing him with someone who would be half as valuable at second?

No. But somehow, this isn’t the most insane suggestion Schultz made.

Trading Michael Harris II would be insanity

Insider hints at ludicrous proposal to trade two vital parts of Braves offense

The more egregious trade “candidate” Jeff Schultz mentioned is Michael Harris II. Again, Schultz “leaned” towards not trading Harris, but he also mentioned that Harris’s hitting is a question mark, which is objectively false.

Harris isn’t Aaron Judge at the plate, but he’s also not Michael A. Taylor or Victor Robles. In fact, Harris has the fifth-highest wRC+ among CF since 2022. He also has the fifth-highest fWAR, despite not even debuting until the end of May 2022.

Thanks to his production (which includes his excellent hitting, Jeff) and his contract there are no healthy pitchers (McClanahan had a higher trade value in July but is out for the 2024 season) with a higher trade value than Harris who isn’t on the Braves (Spencer Strider, again).

I repeat, there is not a single pitcher who has more value than Michael Harris currently has.

Thanks to the eight-year, $72 million contract that has team options for 2031 and 2032, the young CF signed during the 2022 season will max out at $20 million in a season if his final team option is picked up.

Starling Marte, who was worth -0.3 fWAR this season and made $20.75 million is guaranteed another $41.5 million over the next two seasons.

If you trust, there isn’t another pitcher in the same universe with as much surplus value as Harris.

The gap between Michael Harris II and George Kirby’s surplus value ($66.8 million) is greater than Mookie Betts’s total surplus value ($64.7 million).

There’s not a single pitcher worth trading Harris for. I’ll give Schultz the benefit of the doubt when he says “part of a deal for quality SP” that he did not mean packaging Harris with prospects for this hypothetical starting pitcher who is supposed to save the Braves during the postseason (a team who lost because they forgot how to hit for four straight games).

To demonstrate how insane Michael Harris II’s trade value is, here’s one I put through the simulator:

The Philadelphia Phillies could trade their ace Zack Wheeler, their 2023 most valuable position player by fWAR Bryson Stott, and their top prospect Andrew Painter for just Michael Harris, and the trade simulator would believe that the Braves overpaid by nearly $40 million in surplus value.

Unlike second base, where the Braves could plug in Vaughn Grissom and at least get half of what Albies can produce, there’s not another center fielder in sight who could produce what Harris can on the contract the Georgia native is on.

That’s just like, your opinion, man

Jeff Schultz is right, at the end of the day, these are just opinions and things shouldn’t get personal.

However, there are bad opinions. Bad opinions are worthy of critique.

If Schultz was willing to name pitchers he thought were worth trading Albies or Harris for, perhaps the discourse could be different.

Instead of Schultz tripling down on his opinion, even though he “leans” towards not trading them, (Not to mention he and Mark Bowman are the only people in baseball mentioning the idea, and Bowman stayed away from even the consider stage) we could have a dialogue about whether trading Albies for someone like Gerrit Cole is wise from a myriad of angles.

Since Schultz isn’t willing to mention a single pitcher, or even discuss why even entertaining the idea of trading two core members of the Braves is a bad idea, however, he is deserving of some criticism.

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