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Christian Bethancourt Rumors
We’re still six weeks or so away from the non-waiver trade deadline, but trade discussions are beginning to pick up around the league. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Braves are already receiving interest in their starting pitchers. While the Braves certainly aren’t sellers, they can afford to move Gavin Floyd or Aaron Harang due to the presence of Alex Wood in the minor leagues, Morosi points out. Many clubs have been linked to pitching on the trade market, including the Blue Jays, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Red Sox, Giants and A’s. Some have also speculated that the Pirates will make a move for a starter after Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano both hit the disabled list.
Here’s more on the NL East’s division leaders…
- Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that the Braves have had internal discussions about moving Evan Gattis to left field and promoting Christian Bethancourt to serve as the everyday catcher. In that scenario, Justin Upton would shift to right field, Jason Heyward would slide over to center field and B.J. Upton would fall into a reserve role. As Bowman notes, Bethancourt has hit very well over the past month for Triple-A Gwinnett, and there’s never really been any concern over his defensive skills, which are very highly regarded.
- David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, however, hears a different story entirely. O’Brien writes that multiple sources within the organization have told him there hasn’t been any discussion of moving Gattis to the outfield, as he’s more valuable behind the plate. A move to the outfield, where he isn’t comfortable playing (according to O’Brien) would weaken the outfield defense and diminish Gattis’ value. O’Brien goes on to write that the Braves may consider making the switch if they feel they have no choice in a pennant race, but for the time being, a switch isn’t likely.
- There’s simply no sense in the Braves’ decision to keep Dan Uggla on the roster at this point, ESPN’s Buster Olney opined over the weekend (Twitter link). The current situation helps neither the team nor the player, and both sides would benefit from Uggla being waived, Olney continues.
Here's the latest on the Braves from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution…
- The Braves could move Dan Uggla if they can find a team willing to pay roughly a quarter of the $26MM remaining owed to the second baseman over the next two seasons Tyler Pastornicky, Tommy La Stella and Ramiro Pena would all compete for the 2B job in Spring Training, though I'd guess the Braves would want to bring in a more established second baseman.
- The Braves offered Tim Hudson a one-year deal that, even with incentives, was worth less than the $9MM than he earned in each of the previous four seasons. They never considered making Hudson a qualifying offer since the $14.1MM price was too rich for a 38-year-old coming off a severely broken ankle. While the Braves want Hudson back, they're just one of at least nine teams interested in the veteran righty and the healthy market could net Hudson a two-year, $24MM deal.
- O'Brien would "be shocked" if Brian McCann received a $100MM contract and thinks the catcher will receive something akin to a five-year, $75MM deal. Given the big-market clubs interested in McCann's services, there have been rumors that he would indeed fetch such a nine-figure contract.
- The Braves' payroll is expected to rise from $90MM to around $100MM, which isn't enough for the club to obtain a top-tier ace in free agency. To add a veteran to their young staff, O'Brien wonders if Atlanta could take a chance on a former ace like Roy Halladay if Hudson leaves.
- The team has been hesitant to trade top prospects in recent years and O'Brien doesn't see that changing, so the likes of Christian Bethancourt or Lucas Sims wouldn't be moved in a potential deal for David Price or Max Scherzer.
- There isn't any talk in the Braves organization of exploring trades involving Evan Gattis.
The Braves will promote top prospect Christian Bethancourt today, according to Tom Hart of FOX Sports in Atlanta (Twitter link). The 22-year-old catcher hit .277/.305/.436 at Double-A Mississippi this season. While those numbers don't look tremendously impressive, Bethancourt turned it on after a slow start, batting .300/.339/.521 with 11 homers from June 13 on. He currently ranks as the Braves' No. 3 prospect and the fifth-best catching prospect in baseball in the eyes of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. Here's more on Bethancourt and the rest of the NL East…
- MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweets that Bethancourt's promotion will allow him to get acquainted with the Majors, which is a good thing, as it's likely that he or Evan Gattis will be the Braves' starting catcher in 2014. In doing so, Bowman implies that Brian McCann is likely to sign elsewhere as a free agent. That thought has been echoed by others in recent weeks, including David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- The Mets will stall Ruben Tejada's promotion back to the Majors, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, and in doing so, they will delay his free agency until after the 2017 season instead of the 2016 season. Tejada hasn't exactly torn the cover off the ball of late, as he's batted just .275/.324/.364 from July through Sept. 2 at Triple-A Las Vegas — one of the most hitter-friendly environments in all of professional baseball.
- Ryan Zimmerman has regained confidence in his throwing and believes he can continue to play third base for the Nationals, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Zimmerman concedes that he doubted his future at the hot corner earlier in the season. He tells Kilgore that his shoulder injuries in 2012 wore his right arm down to the point where he couldn't lift it above his head, causing him to develop bad throwing habits. He had surgery to repair the shoulder last October, but breaking those poor habits and rebuilding the strength in his arm has been a slow process, Zimmerman says. Ultimately, the decision on when to move to first won't be Zimmerman's, Kilgore writes. The team could even move Adam LaRoche this winter and make the switch in 2014.