It was probably one of the first things that crossed your mind when you heard that Atlanta Braves starter Brandon Beachy, who is leading the NL in ERA (2.00), was headed to the DL with elbow troubles. It was probably one of the first things that crossed your mind when you heard that Beachy had at least a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. And it was definitely the first thing that crossed your mind when it was announced late last night that Beachy would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, and would be out until next year.
Maybe the Braves just got desperate for Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza.
The midseason trade game can be an icky one, full of uncomfortable rooting interests, and things you think, but would never say aloud. I guess the best way to put it is that, while I am not the least bit happy about Beachy going down in the middle of a great season, I am excited that the Cubs’ possible trade markets continue to open up. And I wish Beachy a speedy and full recovery.
But, speaking of that trade market, although the Braves would never say they’re desperate to pick up a starter, they’re certainly looking.
And, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Braves are indeed taking a long look at both Dempster and Garza. We heard earlier in the week that the Braves had sent their top talent evaluator, former big league manager Jim Fregosi, to watch Matt Garza’s latest start (a fact confirmed by O’Brien). O’Brien says that the Braves are “believed” to be among “six or more” teams interested in Garza. O’Brien points to Garza’s contract – $9.5 million this year, and another year of control thereafter – as a plus in acquiring him.
Without specifics, O’Brien suggests that Dempster is another pitcher in whom the Braves could have interest, and that he’d likely cost less in trade than Garza (yeah … ). O’Brien also notes that the Cubs are likely willing to eat a substantial portion of the money owed to Dempster this year in order to improve their return, something of import to the always cost-conscious Braves.
Obviously the Braves would be an attractive trade partner for the Cubs.* The Cubs are looking for big-time pitching prospects, and that tends to be the Braves’ specialty. They’ve got top 100 types Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery), as well as interesting guys like Sean Gilmartin, Zeke Spruill, J.R. Graham, and more. They’ve also got 22-year-old starter Randall Delgado, who’s found some success already as a starter in the bigs.
The Braves also have a number of semi-successful, young-ish big league starters – guys like Jair Jurrjens, Kris Medlen, and Mike Minor – on whom the Cubs might be willing to take a chance, if the rest of the deal made sense.
They’ve also got some solid positional prospects in areas of need (third base, catcher), so I could obviously go on for a while. The point is: the Cubs could find what they want if the Braves were desperate to pick up one of Garza or Dempster.
And, given that the Braves are currently just 3.5 games out in the NL East, and just 0.5 back from the second Wild Card, they’re clearly going to want to stay in the race as best they can. With Beachy out, that might just mean parting with a prospect they might not otherwise have wished to deal.
*Subject to the caveat that the Braves have long been supremely good at evaluating young talent, and you risk a whammy when picking up the pitching prospects that they’ve decided they’re willing to discard.