As you may know by now, John Schuerholz is working on a trade for Devil Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli. Baldelli would play left field for the ’07 Braves, and then could shift back to center in 2008.
David O’Brien of the AJC cautions that the Braves are just one of several teams (White Sox, Orioles) going after Baldelli. The general structure of the deal is thought to be catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Yunel Escobar, and a starting pitcher. The Rays want that pitcher to be Chuck James, but the Braves might only be open to Kyle Davies.
Saltalamacchia turns 22 next May; he struggled in 92 Double A games this year. In his defense, he dealt with a wrist injury and also came on strong in July and August. Plus, he hit .565 in the AFL before straining a groin muscle. Salty is a switch-hitter with a sweet swing; he was thought to be untouchable last winter.
Escobar, a Cuban defector, turned 24 in November. His bat didn’t impress at Double A, but he has solid tools and plays decent defense at short.
James you already know. In examining his Major League work a few months back, I decided that his stats were quite inflated and he’s probably more of a 4 ERA guy. Still, that’s nothing to sneeze at. He’s a flyball pitcher with a fantastic changeup.
Davies turned 23 this year. He’s struggled in 151 Major League innings, but pitched well at Triple A as a 21 year old.
Baldelli is just 25 and has 384 Major League games under his belt. He showed nice power growth this year and has a favorable contract.