Earlier this week, we talked about a rumor circulating that had the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves discussing an Edwin Jackson, B.J. Upton swap just before the Trade Deadline. On the balance, even if the salaries were squared by the Braves eating money, it didn’t look like a great move for the Cubs. Apparently they agreed, because they reportedly were the ones to ultimately pass.
David O’Brien offers a great deal more context for those talks, and you should read his piece. O’Brien believes – and I think he’s right – that rumors like this come out only long after the fact if a team is trying to light a fire under a player or to show their fan base that they’ve been trying. He implies that the rumor is coming from the Braves’ side, and that they will try to move Upton again in the offseason.
To that point, it’s very interesting to learn that the Cubs may have been looking not only for money to even up salaries in a swap, but also wanted a pitcher included in the deal. O’Brien mentions Mike Minor (a reclamation arm in the mold of subsequently-acquired Turner/Straily/Doubront types, but one who will cost a fair bit in arbitration next year) and Ervin Santana (a free agent after the season), though I’m not sure how Santana would have made any sense for the Cubs. O’Brien says that the Braves would not have done both cash and a player (which could be why a deal was never consummated). Heading into the offseason, it sounds like the Braves will once again try to move Upton, and his salary, by pairing him with another player.
I raise all of this because it aligns with something I mentioned when first discussing the rumor:
If the Braves want to try and offload more of the salary on Upton’s side by including a quality prospect (and the Cubs would essentially be “buying” that prospect), then maybe there’s something there. On a one for one swap, though, I’m not sure I see it.
I was just spitballing, but maybe that’s something the Braves would actually be open to after the season. Minor makes less sense for the Cubs given their recent acquisitions (and his impending arbitration raise), but maybe there’s a fit if the deal is expanded in some way, with the Cubs leveraging their cash (and the Braves’ theoretical desire to unload some payroll) to pick up talent. It’s a long-shot, but given the prior talks (and Bob Nightengale’s report that the two sides could re-engage after the season), it’s probably worth keeping on the radar.