No one knows what the Braves are going to do. No one knows where Carlos Beltran is going to end up. No one knows if ANY team is willing to pay the price for guys like Beltran or Hunter Pence or B.J. Upton, or any of the rumored players out there. And I keep wondering if the Braves should pay that price either.
We know the limitations on Beltran, he's a pure two-month rental with no compensation. Pence plays a position already occupied by one of the Braves top young stars, so out of position players could become an issue if he was acquired. Upton is talented, but hasn't shown that full talent the last few years, and may not be the difference maker Atlanta needs, and would cost just as much as Pence.
None of these moves seem to be quite right for the Braves, and they would likely have to give up one of their top-four pitching prospects to get any of these players. If they're going to have to give one of those prospects up for a player who might not be the right fit, why not double down and go all out for the player who is the right fit. When you look at the Braves trade history, this is more in line with what they have been willing to do. And it's what they should do this year.
The Mark Teixeira trade alone proves that the team will move a stash of prospects for a player they feel they can win with for more than one season. They proved this when they acquired Tim Hudson (for their top pitching prospect), Edgar Renteria (for their top hitting prospect), J.D. Drew (for their top pitching prospect), the list goes on, but the lesson is that Atlanta has never shied away from trading their top prospects when the player they're getting back is the player they want.
So why not go after a premier center fielder like Adam Jones or Matt Kemp, two guys who would command a Teixeira-lite package to acquire, but who would give the Braves an impact bat that they would control for a number of years to come. If the price for a rental is one premier pitching prospect, then you're already half way to the price for Jones or Kemp. Add in another top pitching prospect, or two second-tier prospects, and fill that need for a right-handed hitting center fielder for at least two years. Keep in mind that Braves General Manager Frank Wren, and many of those on his staff, came from the Baltimore Orioles front office.
Even if Atlanta gives up two prospects from the group that includes Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor, and Randall Delgado, they will still likely not need any of them to be full time starters until 2013, and by that time other starters in the organization will have emerged as viable Major League options.
The Braves have the prospects, but we don't yet know if they have the will to pull off a big deal. The fact is that they should. We may look back on it like we look back on the Mark Teixeira deal and wish they hadn't have done it, but if the difference between making the playoffs and not making playoffs is one more right-handed impact bat, then a deal needs to be made. Just look at that array of pitching prospects mentioned above, even if Atlanta traded away two of them, they'd still have two really great young pitchers ready to help out in the Majors.
Minor League prospects exist to help the Major League club either by ascending to the Majors with that club and becoming an everyday player, or by getting traded away to fill the needs of the Major League club. The Braves have more pitching than they can use, but they could use another hitter. They need to get that hitter, an impact bat, by trading away some of their pitching.