Papelbon-Atlanta rumors; Braves moving payroll around … but for whom?

Could Rollins be a top target for the Braves? (John Iacono/Sports Illustrated)

So, most of Braves nation has heard the leaked rumor that Boston proposed Jonathan Papelbon for Javier Vazquez in 2009, but then the Braves went to the Yankees instead. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the Braves went to the Yankees instead. The Braves didn’t need an expensive Papelbon. Our bullpen has not been the issue in recent years, and it’s safe to say it wont be in years to come. (It goes to show you how much confidence the Bravos had in Craig Kimbrel, as well.)

The Braves ended up getting a highly touted prospect from that trade, a player by the name of Arodys Vizcaino, who projected as a top-five Braves prospect right away. For most organizations that’s not a major eye opener. To make the top five in a loaded prospect system, as the Braves have, he must be really special. He was projected as a solid number-three starter, but made his debut this year in the bullpen. He’s a flamethrower and the Braves could be taking the same rout with Vizcaino as several recent clubs have done with top pitching. Six years of a controlled Vizcaino over one or two years of an expensive, roadblocking Papelbon is way worth it in my eyes.

Braves trying to create payroll space (and lineup space) but for who?

Let’s start with what we do know.

It can be said that trading Jurrjens could be for the sole purpose of getting another one of our top prospects to start the year in the majors. The Braves can afford to lose Jurrjens to another team. He seldom pitches a full year, and he can’t really be counted on. He’s always hurt when the team really needs him. But when they start throwing Prado in the mix, well, it’s a clear dump in payroll. They aren’t trading Prado because they don’t like him; it’s about saving money. Prado and Jurrjens will be due about $5MM a piece next year — around a $2 million increase for each. The Braves can afford it, so they aren’t trading them because they have to. They have to be saving some money for someone or multiple players. Coming off the payroll:
  • $5MM – Amount saved from trading Derek Lowe.
  • $6.75MM – Amount saved from taking $1.25MM buyout on McLouth.
  • $2MM – Amount saved from Scott Linebrink‘s expired contract.
  • $2.5MM – Amount saved from Alex Gonzalez‘s expired contract.
  • $1.2MM – Amount saved from George Sherrill‘s expired contract.
  • $7MM – Amount saved from Kenshin Kawakami’s expired contract.
So, that’s a little over $24MM they are saving as of right now. Another $10-14MM will be gone to increases/arbitration. That leaves anywhere from $10-14MM left to spend. Frank Wren recently came out and said the Braves are going to be increasing their payroll next year … and they are still trying to dump another $10MM from Prado and Jurrjens. A potential of $20MM plus in money to spend.
They need a shortstop, but have said they will go in-house if needed (missed out on Jamey Carrol). They need a veteran bullpen arm, but that shouldn’t cost more than $3MM.
So, Braves fans, Who are they signing or trading for?

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