Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Javier Vazquez Fallacy

How will the Braves acquire the right handed power hitter they so desperately covet? By trading Javier Vazquez, of course!
"The Braves are in a stronger position now, but Wren faces a difficult challenge in his search for a hitter. Lowe, with three years and $45 million remaining on his contract, is too expensive to bring a significant return. My hunch is that the Braves will need to trade Vazquez, who finished sixth in the NL in ERA last season and is signed for one more year at $11.5 million.

Only Vazquez could bring the bopper the Braves need."
In theory, Vazquez should be able to bring back quality right handed power hitter. Vazquez was one of the best pitchers in the NL in 2009 and I'm sure that there are plenty of teams out there, who would love to have Vazquez on their side.

But how many of these teams actually have right handed power hitters to trade?

Not many. Would any of these names actually appeal to the Braves in return for Vazquez?

-Ryan Ludwick
-Derrek Lee (good option, but doubtful the Cubs would deal him)
-Nelson Cruz
-Jorge Cantu
-Dan Uggla

In my opinion, none of those guys outside of Lee have the same type of value to the Braves that Vazquez has and will have in 2010. Even with six starters, Vazquez is still an intregal member of the Braves starting rotation and the Braves should only trade him if they are completely blown away by an offer. But as you can see, there are a limited number of impact right handed power hitters on the trade market right now.

In addition, there are several other hurdles for the Braves as they look into trading Javier Vazquez:

1. Contract

-Vazquez only has one more year left on his deal at $11.5 million and he will be a free agent after the 2010 season. How many teams are out there that are willing to pay a premium price for Vazquez and then risk losing him after 2010? For example, would the Rangers give up four seasons of Nelson Cruz at a cheap price for one season of Javier Vazquez? Nope. Would the Cardinals surrender three years of Ryan Ludwick for one year of Vazquez? Maybe, but I dunno if Ludwick fits the bill after his sub par 2009 season.

2. No trade clause

-Vazquez has a limited no trade clause that allows him to block trades to all NL West and AL West clubs. That limits the number of teams, who will be interested in pursuing Vazquez.

If the Braves are really that desperate to find a taker for Vazquez, I think their best option would be trade him for prospects to free up salary. This would allow them to go after Matt Holliday or Jason Bay in free agency and sell high on Vazquez after his stellar 2009 season.

This idea that if the Braves trade Javier Vazquez that they are destined to receive their coveted power hitter in return is absurd. There are too many obstacles and roadblocks that lie ahead for the Braves by simply trading Vazquez for a power hitter if they want to get true value for the pitcher. So my advice to Frank Wren is this: go for the prospects, which will lead to financial flexibility, which could then lead to Holliday or Bay.

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