Taking Stock of Possible Cubs Trade Partners: Atlanta Braves

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Taking Stock of Possible Cubs Trade Partners: Atlanta Braves

Chicago Cubs

cameron maybin bravesWith the Chicago Cubs likely buyers this year for the first time in the last several Trade Deadlines, we thought it would be appropriate to take a brief look at some of the teams that could become sellers. These teams could present possible fits for the Cubs should they look to improve externally.

Previously: Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies.

Possible Seller

Atlanta Braves

Record and Standings

  • Current Record: 42-47 (.472 W%)
  • Projected End of Season Record (PECOTA): 73-89
  • Standings: Third place in NL East, 6 games back of second Wild Card

Why They Might Be Sellers

The Braves have not been terrible in their 89 games before the All-Star break, but the second half does not look to be nearly as inviting. Indeed, their first half strength of schedule was the easiest in MLB. PECOTA pegs them to go just 31-42 the rest of the way, putting their odds of making the playoffs at a lowly 0.9%.

How Soon They Could Be Ready to Sell

Although the Braves have an uphill climb ahead of them, and are no doubt aware of their schedule’s strength, I’m guessing they will not be one of the first teams to sell this July. It’s more likely that the Braves front office will wait to see how the first week and half goes – whether that is a good strategy or not – before ultimately deciding to sell. Additionally, as more buyers get increasingly pushy, they may find themselves with a deadline deal they can’t pass on. Finally, their available assets – the short-term types they’d be most likely to move – aren’t terribly robust.

Realistically Available Players That Might Interest the Cubs

  • Jim Johnson
    • Position: Reliever
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 32
    • Contract: $1.6M in 2015
    • 2015 Stats: 43 IP, 2.09 ERA (3.65 xFIP), .289 BABIP, 9.7 K-BB%, .4 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: None.
  • Juan Uribe
    • Position: Third base
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 36
    • Contract: $6.5M in 2015
    • 2015 Stats: 238 PAs, .274/.328/.416, .308 BABIP, 7.1 BB%, 18.1 K%, 1.3 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here.
  •  Cameron Maybin
    • Position: Outfielder (Centerfield)
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 28
    • Contract: $7M in 2015, $8M in 2016, $9M club option ($1M buyout) in 2017
    • 2015 Stats: 313 PAs, .289/.356/.418, .336 BABIP, 9.3 BB%, 18.2 K%, 1.2 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here.

Overall Fit with Cubs

I’m not entirely sure how well the Braves match up with the Cubs for this particular deadline.

Jim Johnson is basically the best fit, as he fits the mold of a predictably tradable guy (older reliever, having a good go in his walk year), but I’m not as excited about him as I am for other options around the league. His xFIP (3.65), though not bad, is a far ways away from his ERA (2.09) and his BABIP in 2015 (.289) is good deal less than 2014 (.366) and 2013 (.327). His walk rate (8.0%) is fine, but his strike out rate (17.6%) is nothing to write home over.

Ultimately, he might be an upgrade in the middle innings, but, as we’ve discussed, the Cubs’ bullpen isn’t in as bad of shape as it used to be. Unless the bullpen piece the Cubs target is a clear and away upgrade, I like their in-house options for the 6-7 inning range.

Juan Uribe elicits a similar feeling. Yes, he is having a pretty good year at the plate and might come fairly cheap (in acquisition cost and money), but I’m not sure giving up anything of note to acquire Uribe is more worthwhile than the potential in-house options when you factor in that cost. Now that Javier Baez has resumed baseball activity, he’ll be back sooner rather than later and could provide stellar defense and a shot at contributing with the bat as well.

Cameron Maybin represents the most intriguing, but relatively costly potential addition from Atlanta. As a centerfielder with a solid performance at the plate (.774 OPS) and multiple years of control left, Maybin won’t come cheap, but perhaps he should. 2015 represents the first season Maybin has slugged above .400 since his 54 games in 2009 and his defense has been far from stellar. Once again, the front office may be met by a difference in valuation too great to overcome. Additionally, Maybin actually fairs a good deal better versus lefties (123 wRC+) than righties (115 wRC+), which means that he wouldn’t pair particularly well with – for example – Dexter Fowler, who maintains similar splits.

Unless these front offices get creative, or unless the Braves are interested in parting with some of their younger pitching, I’m not quite sure I see a deal lining up for the Braves and Cubs in 2015. There are some potential opportunities there, but with an imperfect match and two teams that will not be the most aggressive buyers or sellers this deadline, a deal is unlikely to occur.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami