The August 1st Trading Deadline for Major League Baseball came and went on Monday with much fanfare, but none from the Braves, which made their big moves on July 27th and July 30th. Many were expected Jim Johnson to be traded, while others received some moderate interest. At the end of the day, Braves GM John Coppolella felt that none of the offers he received were good enough to part with talent at the Major League level. All is not lost, however, as the waiver Trade Deadline looms in August. Now instead of doing a trade in the regular, old-fashioned way, in order to deal a player on its 40-man roster, the player must pass through the waiver system. If you need a further explanation on the waiver Trade Deadline, visit MLB’s write up on it here.
Here are some players to watch for the Braves that might find themselves on other teams by September 1st.
Nick Markakis – RF
Markakis’ slash might not look impressive as we sit on August 2nd (.265/.345/.369), but there’s reason to believe that he’s on the upswing. Since June 5th (a span of 50 games), Markakis is slashing .292/.355/.415, which is along his career line of .289/.358/.425. If that’s the case, then Markakis is back from his offseason surgery that affected his power numbers in 2015 and early on in 2016. If teams in playoff contention need a bat that is posting a 111 OPS+ throughout its career, then Markakis should be a highly valued commodity. The issue with Markakis is his injury history, which teams are likely to shy away from, and his declining defensive efficiency in right field. Markakis can still play the position, but may perhaps be better served for both him and the team playing left field.
Markakis does have $22M remaining on his salary through 2018, which should allow him to pass through waivers easily. If Markakis continues his hot approach throughout August, the veteran outfielder might find himself out of Atlanta and on a playoff contender come September.
Jim Johnson – RHP
Many, including myself, thought that Johnson would be a shoo-in to be traded on Monday’s deadline. As it turned out, Johnson will remain a Brave – for now. Since June 7th (a span of 22.2 innings), Johnson has a 1.59 ERA, while opponents are slashing .250/.330/.350 against him. The strikeout numbers aren’t what you’d like to see and only 8 percent of strikes swinging during that span. Those are reasons that some teams will look at Johnson and move on, but many in the baseball world know that Johnson’s value comes from inducing ground balls on weak contact, which Johnson has done very well. The Braves may view Johnson as a closer and want a return bigger than what teams would pay for a guy to pitch the 7th or 8th innings.
Johnson would be a rental for whatever team claims him, but does come at a very cheap rate. He should clear waivers and there’s about an 80 percent chance he’s not a Brave in September.
Erick Aybar – SS
Aybar has gotten to some Dan Uggla, Dan Kolb and Reggie Sanders-eque levels with Braves fans. The veteran shortstop was supposed to come in and replace gold glover Andrelton Simmons, but has been a major disappointment thus far. So why is he on this list? Mostly because he’s been playing much better. The .224/.286/.274 slash is sure to deter a lot of teams away from Aybar, but since his return from the disabled list on June 12th has been a different player. In those 41 games, he is slashing .271/.351/.346, which still isn’t great, but it is respectable. Aybar’s defense at shortstop has left a lot to be desired and that facet of his game has not gotten much better since his return. Of course, maybe after watching Simmons for three years, everyone will look like a bad defensive shortstop to Braves fans and that’s fine.
Aybar, like Johnson, has a contract that expires this year. Unlike Johnson, Aybar is not likely to cost much. While it’s hard to determine Aybar’s value right now, a team like the Mets, who may be without shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera for some time, might take a flyer on the veteran. It will take continued improving play from Aybar and an injury for a contending team in the middle infield for him to be moved.
Gordon Beckham – UTIL
Early in the season, I thought Beckham might be traded at the deadline and warranted a nice, little return for the Braves. Since Beckham’s return from the disabled list on July 7th however, his trade value has nearly gone out the window. In 69 plate appearances, he’s slashing .175/.246/.317. Not many contenders are going to find that a valuable asset to their respective teams. There is hope, however. If Beckham can regain what he was doing from Opening Day to June 1st, teams will find great value in him as a utility infielder. At this point, expect to see Beckham in Atlanta for the rest of the 2016 season with a chance at resigning with Atlanta for a two-year deal this offseason.
Jeff Francoeur – LF
The non-roster invitee from Spring Training 2016 actually generated some trade interest from other clubs, but the Braves felt that Francoeur’s leadership and clubhouse character were too good to simply be given away. Coppolella told Francoeur that he had no interest in trading him and it was reported that in order to let go of Francoeur, the Braves would need a team’s Top 10 prospect. Teams bluffed and Francoeur stayed. Francoer might pass through waivers, but that doesn’t mean he’ll go anywhere. The only way that Francoeur leaves Atlanta is if a team in playoff contention gets desperate enough for a guy that can hit left-handed pitching, which he can do. The former rookie phenom does not hit right-handers well at all, however. His slash against righties is a paltry .220/.254/.350. If a team figures it needs a bat that mashes left-handers bad enough, then Francoeur might be gone.
As from the looks of it however, expect Francoeur to remain in Atlanta this season and probably resigning in the offseason.
Hunter Cervenka – LHP
Cervenka is an interesting candidate for the waiver period. The 26-year-old lefty picked up some trade interest towards the end of the deadline, but nothing materialized. Cervenka still has five years of control remaining and is absolutely brutal on left-handed batters holding them to a .556 OPS. He’s not bad against right handers either, as their OPS is .735, but he does struggle with control, which leads to a lot of his issues. The Braves might value Cervenka as more than a LOOGY (lefty one out only guy), but other teams might not. There’s not much chance that he passes through waivers when you factor in his success and affordability, but he is a name to watch, nonetheless.
Not all of these players will be traded. Heck, none of them might be, if the Braves don’t feel like they will get enough back for them. It’s an interesting list to keep an eye on, however. There are players with value on the Braves roster and can be had for the right price.