As the Braves were getting their rear ends whooped early Sunday night by the Angels, the always reliable Mark Bowman of MLB.com had to go interrupting our Game of Thrones viewing with a big time story.
According to Bowman, the Braves have considered calling up top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt to the big leagues and moving Evan Gattis to left field. Justin Upton would move to right field, where he played his entire career prior to coming to Atlanta, and Jason Heyward would replace B.J. Upton in center field.
This would make zero sense.
First of all, the idea of getting B.J. Upton out of the lineup in favor of Christian Bethancourt is silly. It's like cutting soda out of your diet, but then eating an extra candy bar before bedtime. Bethancourt, while very good defensively, has a career line of .274/.301/.371 in the minor leagues. Granted that isn't awful for a catcher, but this wouldn't be like calling up Jason Heyward or Freddie Freeman a few years ago.
If the Braves are thinking about doing this for offensive purposes, there won't be much of an impact unless Bethancourt suddenly starts to kill big league pitching after posting a career OPS in the minors of .672.
Then there's the whole issue of defense. Evan Gattis is very bad in the outfield. Very, very bad. The Braves' pitching staff gives up more fly balls than most. Even if the Braves shifted Heyward a couple of steps towards left field, any possible offensive gains that Bethancourt would bring over B.J. Upton -- it would be very little, if anything -- would be negated by a serious decline in outfield defense.
Then there's the whole issue of B.J. Upton. He's owed about $55 million over the next three and a half years, and doing this would basically mean the end of his starting days. A sunk cost is a sunk cost, but it's not like he's been unplayable this year. At 0.7 WAR currently, B.J. is on pace for a respectable 1.5-to-two win season. That isn't great, but it's also not terrible. He has made a few strides from last year's nightmare.
Bowman said there isn't anything imminent here, and I hope nothing more comes of it. It would seem like a panic move, and whatever offensive upgrade Bethancourt would bring over B.J. Upton would be negated by moving Gattis to the outfield. Either move Heyward to center field and acquire a legitimate 4th outfielder, or keep things as they are until the trade deadline gets closer and see what happens.