Well, you see the question in the headline. Should they? In brief, in my opinion: no.
This is the sort of query we get a lot from readers. When there’s depth at a position, it’s natural to wonder whether some of it could be used in a swap. We’ve been asked quite a bit about Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte, who struggled before hitting the injured list and has now perhaps been indirectly Wally Pipp’ed by exciting young slugger Austin Riley.
Thing is, Inciarte is no Pipp. When Pipp was eclipsed by Lou Gehrig, he was a 32-year-old first baseman mired in a slump after years of inconsistent offensive production. Inciarte? Ironically, his 63 OPS+ is a near-match to Pipp’s 62 OPS+ from that fateful 1925 season. Otherwise, they are nothing alike. Inciarte is a high-grade defensive outfielder and baserunner. Even if he’s a slightly below-average true-talent hitter, which seems like a fair characterization, he’s a valuable roster piece.
I admit it, the Pipp thing isn’t really even an apt analogy in the first place. But that only goes to prove the point on Inciarte.
Take a look at this Braves roster. Ronald Acuna is capable of playing center field and probably doing whatever else he happens to feel like on a baseball field. Nick Markakis is entrenched in right for the rest of the season and Riley’s bat isn’t coming out of the lineup unless and until MLB pitchers figure him out. On the reserve side, Matt Joyce has been a useful lefty bench bat; Charlie Culberson and Johan Camargo are infielders by trade.
Inciarte still fits just fine — quite nicely, in fact, especially given that Riley is still learning the outfield on the fly. Inciarte could enter late in games as a pinch-runner and/or defensive replacement for Riley, leaving the Braves with an excellent defensive alignment. And let’s not forget that Inciarte has a history of solid output as an everyday player. If there’s an injury or a sudden downturn, it’d be awfully nice to have him around.
Making a roster adjustment to accommodate him shouldn’t be too hard. Joyce is a bit of a luxury for a team that has so many firm regulars. He has been tasked with a limited role, serving mostly as a pinch-hitter and logging only 35 1/3 innings in the field. It’s not as if Inciarte isn’t capable enough against right-handed pitching himself; for his career, he’s a .289/.339/.404 hitter with the platoon advantage.
If the Braves prefer to hang onto Joyce, and maintain their overall slate of players, they can option down Camargo. Heck, Culberson is hitting like he’d belong on one of Gehrig’s old teams, so expanding his role would make sense regardless. With Riley on the roster, there’s a ready-made third-base fill-in to spell Josh Donaldson. And Camargo is really struggling at the plate. He has seen an erosion in plate discipline. He’s putting the ball in the air more but not doing so with authority, leaving him with a meager power output (.111 ISO) and low BABIP (.244) that’s not entirely undeserved. There’s good reason to think he’ll ultimately improve upon his ugly .213/.261/.324 slash, but some time working out the kinks at Triple-A wouldn’t be the worst idea.
The future considerations also weigh in favor of keeping Inciarte around. If you’ll indulge my strained comparison yet further … well, Riley isn’t the Iron Horse. No, I’m not talking about the attributes of the players here. It’s about the nature of the roster situation. Riley wasn’t called up to replace Donaldson, who unlike Pipp has been both effective and healthy this year. But third base is Riley’s natural position. And Donaldson will be a free agent at season’s end. Markakis is also a free agent. Really, when you look ahead to the Braves’ 2020 roster, there’s just one sure thing in the outfield: Acuna.
Given that situation, keeping the respected and familiar Inciarte on hand would make a ton of sense. He could re-take his semi-regular role in center or platoon with a right-handed-hitting player (perhaps even Adam Duvall, who is still stuck at Triple-A). That’d help the Braves bridge the gap to Cristian Pache and other young talents.
Inciarte’s extension calls for a reasonable $7MM salary in 2020, with $8MM for the following year and a $9MM club option thereafter. That’s still a nice price tag for a thrifty Atlanta organization. If they swing some big trades, signings, and/or promotions and no longer wish to keep Inciarte, the contract ought still to be movable.
To be sure, moving Inciarte should (and no doubt would) be considered if there’s an appealing-enough offer. But making a trade now would likely mean selling low. It’d cut into the team’s depth and flexibility, this season and in the near future. And it probably isn’t necessary — or shouldn’t be, anyway. The club is still loaded with young talent, not all of which can be maintained easily within the constraints of MLB’s roster rules. And it shouldn’t need to shed salary (or avoid taking it on) to acquire any desired mid-season upgrades, since the team expressly reserved payroll capacity for the middle of the season.
Depth is good, particularly for a team with postseason ambition.
If they only they had some pitching depth….sadface
Having top-100 prospects starters (Touki, Wright) as long-men in your bullpen is the definition of depth. The bullpen is improving, but still needs work – even if Kimbrel isn’t wrangled in. Minter has pitched well in AAA, and might thrive more in the set-up role, where he has been great. It’d be even more depth if Gohara was healthy and Allard was thriving. There’s also been talk about possibly seeing Kyle Muller late in the year – who is challenging for organizational SP of the year.
Saw Muller recently & liked what I saw. It was a pitching duel & he went 8 as I recall -no sign of the wildness some claim. Also a chance to see Pache & Waters, both potential CF-ers & both looked promising.- for that series Waters was my choice. All to say, trading Inciarte now would bring very little, but with 4 CF-ers, there will be a need to make room. in the near future..At that time I think Inciarte would be the odd-man out..
Ctrl alt dlt
I recently saw a Mississippi game and Ian Anderson looked almost unhittable and Pache and Waters looked close to a promotion
I’m going to take a giant leak on the fire here….but Acuna isn’t a CF.
Sure, he can definitely fill in to spell, and could even play for a few weeks or half a season if inciarte were out for injury, but slotting Acuna in A’s your Centerfielder in March is doing a disservice to your pitching staff.
I agree with Jeff Todd. Camargo needs to get some regular at bats in AAA at Left Field. You have to count on Donaldson and Joyce being gone next season. Riley can take Donaldsons position and hopefully Camargo can take Riley’s position in LF. Though overpaid at the role, Ender would make a great 4th outfielder and when healthy can hopefully fill in when someone gets injured. If some team offers us more than what and injured poor performing outfielder would net, then we should listen. Don’t sell low though when 2 of the other guys we have playing the outfield will likely not be able to for us next season.
They should trade Donaldson for pitching, and move Riley to third
I remember not too long ago quite a few people on this site were wanting Riley traded for pitching. Braves are still right in the thick of things, and they still got a great bat for years to come.
Inciarte needs to be traded so you have it totally wrong. If not now at low value, then over the off-season after he has a chance to recover some of his performance. Definitely needs to be gone before the start of next season. The best approach is to seek a trade now using Camargo and Inciarte as collateral for a team that needs to improve its defense up the middle. I like a deal with the Pirates best where a package could include Felipe Vazquez and either Sterling Marte or Greggory Polanco plus another pitcher like Kyle Crick or Nick Burdi. The pirates need a shortstop muchly. If a deal can be made that includes an outfielder, then it opens the door to trade Donaldson for a TOR pitcher.
For a guy that is a slow-starter and excels in the 2nd half – don’t trade him now. He’s still affordable, is great in the clubhouse, and doesn’t hurt having one of the best OF gloves in the game coming in anytime. That can only help a beleaguered bullpen.
I would be as shocked to see PIT trade one of their young talents for Inciarte (package) as I would seeing a team trade a TOR talent for a few months of Donaldson.
What would help the beleaguered bullpen a lot more would be to trade him for a reliever.
But what team is going to trade MLB pieces for MLB pieces?
Donaldson isn’t going anywhere. He plays a good 3rd base and his salary makes him almost impossible to trade. I like him in the 4 spot, anyway.
He is going somewhere. He’s a free agent at the end of the year.
You should petition for the GM job…
Donaldson is going to get you a AAA prospect or a 4 or 5 starter at most.
no, not now at least. he’s a way better 2nd half hitter. trading him now would be selling low.
Kirby Yates would be a nice addition to the Braves pen if the Padres were to fall out of contention in the upcoming few weeks.
San Diego is getting nearly nothing from their CF platoon with Myers and Margot. Inciarte would be a huge improvement and a steady bat at the top of the order.
Yates is valuable to San Diego, but would be much more important to a team like Atlanta who is primed to make a run very soon. Need to nail down the close games late.
And yet in another post, bleacher bum, you said Myers does nothing but hit. San Diego is getting nothing from Myers, yet for another team he does nothing but hit. Which way is it?
I read it as he said they aren’t getting anything from Myers…I’m confused lol
braves homer, bleacher posted in another thread that the Indians should be happy to get Myers in a trade for Trevor Bauer as all he does is hit. That is the point that I was making reference to.
‘and yet in another post’…I read it as ‘yet another post’….gotcha my bad reading as usual
No problem. We all, at times, read comments here too quickly. I know that I have.
I never mentioned Myers in a trade here.
@braveshomer – you read it correctly. My post had nothing to do with Myers other than describing than he wasn’t cutting it currently in CF and that Inciarte is a clear upgrade there.
Yes, you did in the thread on the Indians releasing Carlos Gonzalez. You told me that Myers can hit. If he can hit, the Padres should keep him. If San Diego is getting nothing from him, why would Cleveland want him, especially with his horrible contract. You can’t have it both ways.
you said in last week’s Car-Go section:
“Over-priced or not, Myers can hit. We all know that.”
I think what he meant it Myers can ONLY hit. Meaning he can’t play outfield or any other position well and he is in a huge ballpark in the National League. Those things don’t mix. Probably not a great analogy, but if a NL team had David Ortiz but only had room to plug him in at CF, then they probably shouldn’t keep him. Especially in an outfield like PETCO park. Even Troy Glaus hit pretty well with the Braves but it didn’t work out because that was ALL he did.
Yates has two years of team control left, and SD has the young talent to be able to make a run in the coming years as well. I don’t think moving Yates for Inciarte makes much sense from the Padres perspective considering the sheer depth in their outfield, currently productive or not.
Inciarte has little to no trade value. You are dreaming to think that the Pirates would give up either of those players for Inciarte. He is a 5th outfielder in order to move him you would to have to package him Carmago and a pitcher Ian Anderson or Byrse Wilson. And for that I would send the braves some like Chance Adams from the Yankees.
All the Braves should be trading the Yankees is a fart sealed in a paper bag.
This is easily my favorite comment in this whole thread. Lol
Joyce makes the Bench better than Incairte. If Acuna gets hurt the Braves have a bigger problem than “no one to play CF”.
As for him staying to “bridge the gap”, in you need to call up a player from Double-A, because that’s your best prospect at that position, then call them up. Too many times teams waiver on young talent and stick with mediocre journeymen. Which is what Incairte is, even with his elite defense.
If I was the Giants I would be willing to move Samardzija for Inciarte and Carmago
Of course the Giants make that trade, but no one else would. Samardzija is terrible and on top of that is owed over 30M through 2020. Braves give up the best player in your deal and take on an extra 10m in salary, no thanks.
The best player in the deal would be Carmago. In order to trade Inciarte they are going to have to attached a good prospect or take on a bad contract.
They wouldn’t have to attach anyone or take on a bad contract. Inciarte as about as cheap as they come for a starting CF and is still reasonably young.
You have it the completely mixed up. Samardzjia is a back end innings eater, who can’t eat innings anymore/shouldn’t and his greatest asset has been devalued by teams especially at the deadline, whose peripherals are ugly. Add on that he’s obscenely expensive meaning the Giants would have to eat a majority of that contract and probably add a sweetener. Inciarte is going to be relatively expensive for what he is over the next two years, but there’s value there and his AAV is pennies.
A more realistic trade would be Inciarte for Will Smith. Giants have (as they’ve had for years) a serious need in the OF, and ATL needs a closer. We all know how Giants fans and FO fall madly in love with their players, so they’d probably extend Ender and feel like they stole him from the Braves. ATL gets their man without giving up much of anything in the analysis.
That trade makes zero sense. Smith is worth more than Inciarte, and when it gets to a bidding war, control and impact will win out. They aren’t competing anytime soon, which makes watering down the talent or suggesting to make it even more unrealistic. Then you factor in suggesting to extend a league average hitter at best who relies on speed to be extended 31 y/o on. That’s the exact opposite of Zaidi’s M.O.. It’s not the same old guard.
You say that, but Pillar is pretty much the same player as Inciarte, maybe with slightly more power and Zaidi has a total man-crush on him.
I’d have a man crush too if I can get a guy that’s at least a platoon CF for a bad reliever, a bad reliever who was outrighted, and a terrible inf who was recently DFAd, and no longer any part of the future plans. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t buy the man crush. Zaidi was given a terrible team with little wiggle room. Nominal improvements where they can, are crucial seeing as they have nothing in the upper minors, somewhat have to attempt to try fill their stadium in a tough market.
The Giants don’t need a 3rd light hitting CF on the team. In fact they should be looking to deal Pillar because he’s offense and defense aren’t translating in the NL West. As for Carmargo, where would they put him? They are stuck with Longoria’s contract until the end of time. Joe Panik has finally started to hit and they have him next year.
Again, light hitting CF and struggling Middle IF are two things the Giants have TOO MUCH OF already.
Depends on the return. I think you could get a solid rental for Inciarte (certainly someone who’d be a regular presence in the lineup or the rotation).
There will likely be teams who fall out of contention this year, but intend to go for it in 2020. Those teams will look to trade their would be free agents, and they would likely prefer to add a veteran center fielder with a five year history of above average play, over prospects.
Because prospects are a coin flip, and Inciarte has 3.9 bWAR/ 650 PAs, over a pretty long career. An off couple of months doesn’t change anything, you can still reasonably expect that level of play out of him in 2020-22, his age 29-31 seasons. I’d certainly take Inciarte over a low top 100 prospect, in that situation.
Remember how Mark Texeira was always known as a second half hitter…until he wasn’t. A lot of times those second halves never happen. I’d say keep Inciarte cause his value can’t get much lower right now. Hopefully he does hear back up but I doub’t itll happen in a part time role
Send Camargo down to AAA to get regular at bats. He has an option available.
With that being said, if the right deal comes up then you deal him away.
probably what happens which is a shame…Carmargo got hosed this year, should’ve been starting 3rd baseman from the get go
His play this year says otherwise
Seems to me he only got better and better the more regular playing time he got last season. He lead the team in RBIs most the way and what’s to say it wouldn’ t have carried over? Most would’ve agreed at beginning of season correct? Some need regular playing time and some thrive in part time roles
straight facts @braveshomer!!! camargo had 150 less ABS than freeman, and ended the season with 4 less Hrs and 16 less rbis than freeman!! Camargo was a stud last year and earned that starting spot!! not to mention camargo is not a guy off the bench!! he has to have reg ABs to stay hot!! every braves fan knows that!!
If the White Soxs think they seriously can contend in a top heavy American League the next few seasons, they could trade Colome for him. Could become a better Adam Eaton 2.0
I wouldn’t trade him unless they were able to get a controllable (and dominant) bullpen piece
Nobody is giving up that for Ender unless they want to lose their job. I think his value is a prospect AA-A prospect in the teams 18-25 range
I agree with you, but I wasn’t necessarily talking straight up. I was thinking more like reliever for Inciarte and (insert B level prospect here). Still may not be enough to get it done, but Atlanta is deep and has mid-level prospects that could result in potentially intriguing scenarios.
Furthermore, there are quite a few GM’s who, well, let’s just say are probably only in the position that they’re in because they know somebody.
I agree having inciarte as a depth option Incase acuña gets hurt but we have options for filling in the outfield till then. Duvall is sitting in the minors for one. He was not long ago a 30hr guy albeit low average but that’s what inciarte is doing now. Trading him to SF for say will smith or Sam Dyson makes tons of sense. Giants get the speedy OF they MOST def need in their ballpark and braves get bullpen help they MOST def need.
Giants already made a smilier trade in Pillar. Defensive first outfielder
They are rebuilding while not rebuilding. Adding short term control of an at best average hitter who’s relatively expensive with only two years of control, if he continues to hit like this, makes little sense. They already have Duggar and Pillar. Inciarte doesn’t have the value to acquire Smith. It’d be spinning their wheels when the Giants need to infuse the farm. Even with Dyson they’d be better off with lotto ticket, and seeing if Duggar could improve enough to basically be Incarte. The problem is Inciarte is an average player with not much trade value.
Inciarte for Randal Grichuk. Straight up.
Throw in a half eaten bag of seeds and green apple gatorade then you got a deal
We have to keep the seeds to throw on guy’s heads, so I’ll send over a Pepsi machine instead.
Just to clarify, Coca Cola lol. As I am awaiting moderation lol
Whose going to trade for him?
What does Atlanta give for Boyd,Greene and Castellanos, sure improves team
Camargo, Alex Jackson, couple pitchers. Interesting that Cabrera has 2 bombs, Castellanos only has 5.
Yeah for a sack of potatoes. They wont get much for him
You wouldn’t want a used jock strap included?
Post season teams are built and constructed around pitching and defense.. Ender Inciarte is without question the best defender the Braves have on their roster. He is in fact the heart of the Braves defense, which by the way has suffered during Ender’s IL absence. The idea of trading a perennial gold glove defender in his prime is just ignorant beyond words, as is the yoyo who suggested this nonsense.
Seems the Braves were built around that for years and it only got them 1 championship, lots of postseason appearances granted, but mostly failures. And maybe Ender was the best defensive player on the team but not this year. If I am not mistaken he grades out negatively on defensive metrics this year. His back/injury could definitely be the reason, but I don’t think he’s currently the best defensive player we have.
By no means is Inciarte a premier CF he is 5th OF at best. His trade value is slim to non unfortunately the Braves are stuck with him unless the send him to AAA
Off subject but sure seems the Braves should consider moving Guasman to the bullpen. He’s a 2 pitch pitcher which makes a better case for a bullpen arm versus a starter.
i’m not sure who would say no to an alex colome for inciarte + not a blue chip prospect trade, but there might be a framework there
What? No live chat today, Jeff?
Trading Inciarte, now, when his perceived value is low, is not a great idea. In hindsight, it may have been a good idea to trade him this past off season, or perhaps at the trade deadline the previous summer, but I don’t think anyone expected him to stop hitting. Now he’s viewed as a valuable bench piece, but trading him when he was viewed as a core piece of the roster would have garnered a much bigger return. No choice but to keep him.
A lot of the same things can be said about Camargo.
I think if you want to, you can. I think he’s kinda low value right now, so it would take a creative trade to make it worth while. I think the hard part will be, we have seen what he’s capable of and he’s a multi gold glove…. so you just feel like you can get a lot for him. But obviously his struggles this year and last year at the plate are concerning. Idk. I say trade him now while you can inflate the gold glove a little. Go trade for minor leaguers who are possible bullpen options. Indians have a guy ranked like 30 in their farm. I think he’s worth it. We might have to eat some cash though. Idk
Rangers could use him in CF so Gallo can shift to corner OF
Im still shaking my head on this though, When the D-backs signed Greinke and then trade Inciarte + Swanson and Blair for Shelby Miller , how did that work out for the dbacks
I would change the title of the article to “Why the Braves Should Keep Ender Inciarte”, “The Braves Should Keep Ender Inciarte”, or something similar. The title is written in a way that implies equal presentation of the pros/cons of trading him. The article instead starts with support towards the pro(keep) side and proceeds to provide information that supports said side more so then the other.
All in all, it’s well organized and stated IMO. Just not in the title’s justice.
And Austin Riley is no Lou Gehrig
Agree, he looks more like Babe Ruth!
The trade winds are about to blow. However, Ender Inciarte will not be traded. Next season, Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis will likely be gone. Why deplete the OF?
The theory is they have 2 guys in the minors looking like high impact players. And a lot can change in two years anyways.
Braves need PITCHING! They do not need below average hitters rotting on the bench, especially when they have Pache and Watters in the minors who couldn’t do any worse right now than Inciarte and Camargo.
What are Boyd,Greene and maybe Castellanos worth to you?
Donaldson for all three. There, that’s their worth.
(The above comment is meant to be sarcastic and not to be taken seriously)
hate to be “that guy” but coincidentally is not the same as ironically. I expect that from the commenters, but I think a professional writer like Jeff Todd, who I respect, should be held to a higher standard.
After watching Ronald Acuna play “defense” in centerfield lately, i think the best play would be to bring Inciarte back, move Ronald back to left field, move Riley to his natural position of 3rd base and trade Donaldson and his ginormous contract to a non division team
BTW, I think I’ve seen Ronald pout 4 or 5 times at least when he doesn’t make a catch. thank goodness someone has been there to back him up because once he misses a catch, he loses all motivation