Julio Teheran is a cost-controlled pitcher until his contract expires in 2019. He’s due to make an average of just over $7M during that time and he has a team option of $12M for the 2020 season, in which Teheran would be 29-years-old. I’ve been an advocate of trading Teheran – for the right price – but he might not be the best trade chip the #Braves have. Let me take you back to this deal that happened in the 2015 offseason.
All four players that the Padres received were minor leaguers. Guerra and Margot were ranked as the 52nd and 56th best prospects in baseball according to Baseball America’s list it released in June. Asuaje is putting together a very nice season at AAA as a 24-year-old and Logan Allen has been a middling prospect in the lower levels. The Red Sox traded all of them for a closer. Granted he may be the best closer in baseball, but a closer who has never posted a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) higher than 3.3 in a given season. A closer who was coming off a WAR of 1.3 the season before.
In the grand scheme of things, a 3.3 WAR for a relief pitcher is phenomenal. However, it also goes to show just how overrated the closer position is in Major League Baseball.
Arodys Vizcaino has been a bright spot in an otherwise atrocious Braves bullpen. He has six saves and a 1.59 ERA in 22.2 innings this year. Since 2015, Vizcaino has pitched 56.1 innings, has 15 saves, 70 strikeouts and a 1.60 ERA. Those are great numbers to have from a guy who is supposed to close the door in the 9th inning. Many teams would like to have someone like that. And the Braves have the options to make him available.
I understand that Vizcaino is cost-controlled and many fans don’t understand why you trade a cost-controlled player in the middle of a rebuild. Again, circle back to how overrated the closer position is in baseball and the fact that the Braves are wasting his talents by not competing. If you need more of a reason to trade the highly valued Vizcaino, look at the Braves farm system, which has Shae Simmons recovering from injury, A.J. Minter, who is highly touted, and Paco Rodriguez who should be ready in 2017. Not to mention you’re getting glimpses of Chris Withrow with the big league team right now. When you look at the possibility of Lucas Sims, who Keith Law thinks belongs in the bullpen, and the possible chances that Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint could also turn into bullpen pieces, there are plenty of options for the Braves to move forward with in the future.
I’m not advocating trading Vizcaino – or Teheran for that matter – for scraps. These are cost-controlled players who could help the Braves in the future. Therefore they should be highly coveted to a team like Atlanta. If someone offers me a package similar to what the Red Sox gave up for Kimbrel for Vizcaino, I do it. If someone offers me a package like Arizona did for Shelby Miller, I do it. Regardless of how much you like a certain player or not, you have to make the smart and right decisions in a rebuild. Can the Braves compete in 2017? Probably, but only time will tell to see how prospects Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies and Rio Ruiz adjust to major league pitching. If there is any risk of the Braves not competing in 2017, and believe me there is, the Braves should continue to look at their assets and see what they can bring in to help. The Braves need a catcher and have Vizcaino. The Blue Jays need bullpen pieces and they have Max Pentecost. Of course I would need much more than Max Pentecost to make that trade, but there’s a fit and the Jays are just one of many who could use the services of the Braves closer.