This is from yesterday's column by ESPN scribe Buster Olney:
This story will get some notice in rival front offices: The Royals are willing to deal prospects for starting pitching, Bob Dutton writes. They would appear to be a good match, on paper, with the Mariners, Braves, Diamondbacks and a few other teams. For example: The Braves could be looking for a long-term solution at third base, knowing that Chipper Jones is nearing the end of his career -- Kansas City has Mike Moustakas and Atlanta has a nice core of pitching prospects.
It's a good quote, even if it is pure speculation. There's no denying that the Braves have a bevy of surplus starting pitching. Though as the injuries the last month to Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson have shown, a team can really never have too much starting pitching. Still, some of that pitching is about to get more expensive.
Tommy Hanson will enter his first year of arbitration this off-season, and Jair Jurrjens will enter his second year of arbitration. Both pitchers are Scott Boras clients. Hanson will likely get a raise to something on the order of what Jurrjens is getting this year -- $3.25 million* -- and Jurrjens will likely see his salary nearly double. That's an extra $9 to $10 million being added to the payroll next year. Though much of it will be offset by the salaries of Kenshin Kawakami and Nate McLouth coming off the books (at last).
The team can likely still afford Jurrjens and Hanson next season, and would likely even be able to afford them the following year, as Derek Lowe's $15 million in salary comes off the books. But with younger, cheaper, and (quite frankly) possibly better alternatives in Mike Minor and Julio Teheran ready to take over a Major League rotation spot, the Braves have options other than continuing to pony up for the full arbitration value of Jair and Tommy's salaries.
Certainly seeking a trade of one of these pitchers is a real possibility. We will have to trust the Braves front office to make the right decision, and get the right prospect(s) or player(s) in return, but Minor and Teheran have nothing left to prove in the minor leagues -- a fact pretty much everyone knows -- so a trade of one of the team's current starting pitchers seems like an inevitability at some point this off-season.
*Note: As Peter at Capitol Avenue correctly pointed out, Tommy Hanson may not be arbitration eligible this year.