Atlanta Braves: Trade Partners with Milwaukee Brewers?


As the Atlanta Braves enter their new ballpark in 2017, there are only two spots on the diamond that today remain complete question marks: Catcher and Left-field.

This is not to say that other positions remain solved, but LF and C are complete holes going forward and the organizational depth does not exist to fill them. I wrote an article earlier about the free agent class coming up, and the relative lack of depth at those two positions in the coming years.

-= Related: Atlanta Braves: Predicting 2016 Starting Rotation =-

Signing a free agent at either position would be difficult, so what about a trade? The Milwaukee Brewers are a team in rapid decline. During the 2014 season, Keith Law of ESPN ranked the Brewers farm system as the worst in baseball. That’s right. 30th out of 30. Back of the pack. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves make Law’s list as the number 2 system, complete with a plethora of pitching talent. 

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It would seem that the Brewers and the Atlanta Braves could be natural trade partners. The top two pieces that the Brewers have to move are Catcher Jonathan Lucroy and LF/RF Ryan Braun. The Braves are in a position to start buying, and the Brew-crew would be a good place to start.

It was rumored over last winter and during the 2015 season that the Atlanta Braves were trying to get Lucroy from the Brewers, but the boys up North were having none of it. Well maybe a horrid season from the club and an injury filled season from their stud catcher have loosened their wallets a little. Lucroy is a doubles machine as he racked up 53 of them in 2014, breaking the single season record for a catcher, previously held by Ivan Rodriguez.

Aug 17, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) during the game against the Miami Marlins at Miller Park. Miami won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Technically, Lucroy’s contract runs out after the 2016 season, but there is a club option that the Braves would probably pick up. He was signed in 2012 to a 5yr/ $10 million contract, earning him about $2 million a year.

Acquiring Jonathan Lucroy would not be easy and would likely require at least one of the Braves top 5 prospects, maybe more. Hitting catchers are not easy to come by. A package of Christian Bethancourt, and a couple prospects, one being a top 5 player in the system could probably land the catcher, and in my opinion the Brewers would be fools not to at least dangle him.

The other piece that the Brewers should consider trading is the aforementioned and always controversial Ryan Braun. Braun signed a 5yr/ $105 million deal, locking him up through 2020. There is a mutual option for 2021. This places Braun’s average annual salary at $21 million a year, hardly chump change.

However, at 31 years old and coming of a season where he has hit .287/.359/.503 with 24 stolen bases, he is producing at the same pace as free agent studs Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton. Those guys will likely sign 6-7 year deals for similar annual values. This makes Braun seem more like a bargain. 

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Ryan Braun has put all concerns over his thumb injury behind him this year as he has again hit for power in a depleted Brewers lineup. At this point, age and his checkered past are his only inhibitors. He would likely be expensive, as he is the cornerstone of the Brewers offense and corner outfield bats are about to get really, really scarce.

I would offer a deal including Tyrell Jenkins, Mallex Smith, and two other players, the caliber of which would be highly dependent on how much of Braun’s salary, if any, the Brewers picked up. I would also entertain the idea of including Julio Teheran in a deal.

Either one of these players could be very good for Atlanta. The prospects and financial flexibility gained would benefit the Brewers. It seems as though there could be a mutual fit. And holy cow, what if the Braves pulled a coup and landed both? One can dream, right? It’s worth at least exploring. What do you think? I’m eager to read potential packages in the comments below.

Next: Williams Perez: Rebounding Well in September After Rough Stretch

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