Braves' Andy Marte Available?
Are you familiar with Atlanta Braves' third baseman Andy Marte? Before the 2005 season, Baseball Prospectus rated him the #1 prospect in the game.
At age 21, Marte had an excellent 2/3 of a season for Triple A in '05. Marte posted a .372 OBP and .506 SLG for the Richmond Braves. After Chipper Jones went down with an injury, Marte got a brief call-up to the Show on June 7th. He didn't play regularly, and made several trips back and forth to the minors after that.
There had been whispers of Marte's availability through trade, but it didn't seem logical to me. Deal away a 21 year-old top prospect simply because of Chipper Jones? If there's one thing Jones does not do particularly well, it's play third base. I know he's the well-respected veteran, but a move back to left field to clear the way for Marte seemed like a no-brainer.
On Friday, Will Carroll casually mentioned that Marte could be had for Julio Lugo:
"The Braves are said to be offering BP's 2005 #1 prospect Andy Marte in return, which would be a nice deal both ways, considering that Marte has fallen as far as fourth on the organization's depth chart at third base."
Now, I knew Marte was unpopular, but fourth on the depth chart? How did Pete Orr supplant Marte? But Carroll proved correct. Check out this excerpt about Marte from John Schuerholz's interview Friday with Talking Chop:
Joe Hamrahi: Is there any possibility that Marte goes to camp at a different position or tries to learn a new position?
John Schuerholz: I don't think so. I don't think so. He's too young...he's a primary dominant third base candidate for a major league team in the very near future, whether it be for our team or someone else's team. I mean this guy's total package, offensively and defensively, his power potential, and excellent defensive skills make him a legitimate major league third baseman. Right now, though, there's a guy named Chipper Jones ahead of him.
Italics added by me for emphasis. That's not something you say about the future of your franchise. I think it's pretty clear at this point that Marte is trade bait simply because he's blocked by Chipper Jones. Now, the Braves have a history of trading away top-billed prospects and having them not pan out. But Marte looks like a can't-miss future Eric Chavez (and then some).
With that in mind, which teams have a need at third base and could give the Braves the players they need?
Dodgers - L.A. has a stacked farm system, but the Braves are probably looking for a shortstop and/or a closer. While Cesar Izturis could be part of a future package, a deal probably won't happen now for Marte.
Brewers - The Brew Crew could definitely give Marte an everyday opportunity at the hot corner. Problem is, the Braves don't have a strong need for Lyle Overbay.
Twins - I'd love to see Terry Ryan get creative and make a deal for Marte. He's got starting pitching and bullpen depth to deal from.
Devil Rays - Ultimately, they're still in the best shape to acquire Marte. It's sounding more and more like Baez and Lugo for Marte would appease both clubs.