John Smoltz Available?

John Smoltz‘s recent comments were blown out of proportion perhaps, but the possibility remains: the Braves could consider trading him this summer.  He makes $6MM this year and has an $8MM club option for next year.  Though he’s 39 years old, he’s signed to a very friendly deal. 

Baseball Prospectus finds Smoltz very similar to Gaylord Perry, minus the spitters.  Perry pitched decently until age 44.  BP’s projections value Smoltz at $11MM this year and about $7 mil in ’07.  He’s shown consistent dominance on the big stage, throwing 206 innings of 2.66 ball in the postseason.

Atlanta has had a top notch farm system for as long as I can remember, and the idea of them being sellers at the trading deadline  hasn’t surfaced since I was in grade school.  It all depends on whether the team is expected to be competitive in 2007.  They should be in the hunt, so trading Smoltz would only make sense if a near-ready MLB prospect came back in the deal – say an Anthony Reyes type.

In 2007, the Braves will have to sort through the following pitchers for the four spots behind Smoltz:

Mike Hampton
Tim Hudson
Kyle Davies
Chuck James
Anthony Lerew

That group in itself could form a competitive rotation.  Still, the only sure thing in the group is Hudson.  It would be dangerous to count on Hampton to return from Tommy John at age 34 in his old form and for three kids to succeed in the same season.  Lerew was highly regarded entering this season but has a 9.38 ERA through 48 Triple A innings this season.  He came off the DL a week ago after a back strain.  The fact remains: the 2007 Braves need John Smoltz.

The ’07 Braves probably don’t need John Thomson or Marcus Giles, however.  I’ve heard Joe Blanton for Giles tossed around, and it would be a smart move for the Braves in my opinion.

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