Posts Tagged ‘Javier Vazquez


Atlanta Braves: 2010 Season Preview

It’s that time of year again… Major League Baseball Opening Day.

Today, hope springs eternal for all baseball enthusiasts as every team starts with a fresh slate as the 162-game marathon officially gets underway.

For Braves fans, this is the first year since the team’s past four October-less seasons, where there is a true sense of optimism surrounding Atlanta’s chances of returning to the postseason.

Last year, the Braves made an improbable late run at the National League Wild Card and stayed in contention for the spot until the final few games.

The remarkable turn of events had fans and the media buzzing about the “return” of the Atlanta Braves.

After an offseason in which the club decided to re-sign Tim Hudson and trade Javier Vazquez, add Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito to the back end of the bullpen, sign Troy Glaus to serve as the team’s new first baseman while penciling in No. 1 prospect Jason Heyward in right field, the pre-season hype about the Braves seems legitimate.

Many preseason national pundits have predicted the Braves to indeed make the playoffs in 2010, offering a sense of excitement around the team’s loyalists.

It is no secret that this team has something to play for.

Iconic manager Bobby Cox is in his final year at the helm, and his players desperately want to send their skipper out on a high note.

However, the “win one for Bobby” mantra will only get this group so far.

And, they know it.

While, the players have added incentive and extra motivation to win which may serve them well in the dog days of summer, the talent also appears to be in place for Atlanta to once again taste October glory.

Chipper Jones believes this Braves club could win 90 games, if they stay healthy.

And, it is easy to see why.

Despite the loss of Javier Vazquez, Atlanta’s returning starting rotation comprised of Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Kenshin Kawakami still figures to be one of baseball’s best.

Lowe looks to rebound from one of his most disappointing seasons in 2009.

Yet, despite an uncharacteristically high 4.67 ERA, D-Lowe still won 15 games for the Braves last year, which tied him with Vazquez for the team lead in wins.

Jurrjens has established himself as one of baseball’s best young hurlers, finishing last season with a 2.60 ERA, third-best among National League starters.

Hanson made his highly anticipated rookie debut in June and went on to win 11 games last year, which was good enough for a third-place finish in the 2009 Rookie of the Year balloting.

Atlanta’s top pitching prospect is more seasoned and mature heading into Opening Day, and the Braves rotation stands to benefit greatly from getting a full year out of Hanson in 2010.

Japanese standout Kawakami won 7 games in his rookie season in the U.S. for Atlanta last year, but proved he could go up against any elite starter, besting some of baseball’s top aces last season, including countryman Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Kawakami figures to improve upon those numbers this season, as he has now grown increasingly comfortable with the pitching style in the states and has made the necessary adjustments this spring.

The Braves also boast an improved bullpen this season.

Atlanta added one of the game’s best closers in Billy Wagner to replace last season’s dual closers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez.

Takashi Saito was also brought in as a set-up man to Wagner, but his wealth of prior closing experience gives the Braves great depth late in games this season.

Atlanta’s offense, which undoubtedly derailed the team’s postseason aspirations last year, seems to have at least been marginally improved.

The Braves’ additions of Troy Glaus, Melky Cabrera and Eric Hinske this off-season along with the emergence of Jason Heyward gives Atlanta a more well-rounded and deep batting corps than last year’s group.

The team still lacks a prototypical “big bopper” on paper, but with Glaus serving as the team’s clean-up hitter, protecting both Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, the pieces are in place for a solid middle of the order unit.

That is, of course, if all prove to stay healthy.

The key to Atlanta’s success will be if Glaus, Jones and McCann, who are all overcoming past health concerns, can stay on the field and out of the trainer’s room.

Jones, a future Hall of Famer, is expected to rebound from his career-worst season at the plate in 2009.

McCann, who was slowed early last season by vision problems, should benefit from his second Lasik eye procedure this winter.

The wild card for the success of the Braves offense is whether Jason Heyward can make an immediate and profound impact at the Major League level.

There is no doubt J-Hey is the real deal.

The question is: Can he can serve as a consistent force in the Braves lineup and help power what last season was an often punchless offense?

With the additions of the switch-hitting Melky Cabrera and super utility man Eric Hinske, the Braves are afforded a great deal of versatility this season.

Cabrera will likely serve as the team’s leadoff hitter when he plays and can man left or center field, depending on the pitching matchup and Cox’s preference of playing Matt Diaz or Nate McLouth at the other spot.

I believe Chipper said it best, in terms of assessing the team’s lineup in 2010.

This offense is not “sexy,” but it is balanced top to bottom.

There are no easy outs, and if a player does go down, there are veterans with experience and depth who can step right in and contribute immediately and effectively.

Moreover, the Braves are a more confident and a much more cohesive unit then they’ve been in years.

The club has always enjoyed a great deal of chemistry over the years, especially during their run of 14 consecutive division titles, but never before have the personalities meshed quite like this year’s troops.

Chipper Jones and Tim Hudson credit the closeness and camaraderie among this bunch as a significant intangible that can’t be overlooked.

They’re right.

How often do you see a team stacked with superstars top to bottom but the egos couldn’t play together and the success on paper never quite translated to the field?

To build a winning roster, you need a group that is talented, versatile and that can compliment each other well.

That’s the makings of a true “team.”

The Braves are far from the most talented group assembled on paper in the Majors, and they aren’t even the cream of the crop in their own division.

However, funny things happen over the course of a marathon season.

Legends are made, heroes emerges and storylines develop.

I can’t help but think that Jason Heyward could be that legend and that any number of heroes could stand up to help cement the greatest storyline of the year sending Bobby Cox out as a winner.

Oh, the beauty of Opening Day…where no dream is too big.

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Jair Jurrjens to have sore right shoulder examined

The Atlanta Braves will be holding their collective breath as they await word on the health of one of their best pitchers. Braves starter Jair Jurrjens will travel to Atlanta later this week to have an MRI on his sore right shoulder.

Jurrjens reported to camp a week before pitchers and catchers were scheduled to arrive on Friday, expressing lingering soreness in his throwing shoulder. The 24-year-old hurler was examined by a Braves athletic trainer this week, who found Jurrjens’ rotator cuff and labrum in his shoulder to be structurally sound.

The team’s decision to have Jurrjens undergo an MRI seems to be a precautionary measure at this point and no cause for immediate concern. The Braves are hopeful that Jurrjens is just experiencing normal soreness and will be diagnosed with a simple case of tendinitis.

Jurrjens reported he felt a twinge in his shoulder when he flipped a ball underhanded in a recent game in his hometown of Curacao, Netherlands.

Despite being hampered by shoulder fatigue in the past, Jurrjens has responded well to a strengthening program, where he participates in specialized shoulder workouts early in the offseason.

Jurrjens, along with former Brave Javier Vazquez, were arguably the team’s co-aces last season. The Braves, who were expected to have one of the best rotations in baseball again this year, would suffer a severe blow to their staff if they were to lose Jurrjens for an extended period of time.

Jurrjens was 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA that was the third-lowest in the National League in 2009. He also played a pivotal role in the Braves’ late push for the NL Wild Card, going 4-1 with a minuscule 1.25 ERA in September, earning himself NL Pitcher of the Month honors.

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Can Braves rotation withstand the loss of Vazquez?

It’s day two of the Braves’ voluntary two-week, pre-spring training pitching camp at Turner Field, a program created and designed by former pitching coach Leo Mazzone to help the team’s pitchers get back on the mound early to alleviate the off-season rust.

The program, which was formerly known as “Camp Leo”, is now run by Roger McDowell but still preaches the same formula for success that has helped the Atlanta Braves build a pitching dynasty over the years.

This year’s camp opened yesterday with the club’s starting staff already facing a bounty of questions about how they plan to duplicate last season’s numbers.

Braves starters led the majors with a 3.52 ERA while compiling the second most innings (986), proving to be a steady and durable force in 2009.

Entering Spring Training this year, Atlanta is trying to maintain that level of excellence minus one very critical piece — their workhorse ace Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez (15-10, 2.87 ERA) was traded to the Yankees in December after the Braves found themselves with one starter too many.

Many baseball pundits question whether this year’s staff can withstand the loss of Vazquez?

If the Braves rotation hopes to replicate last season’s success, the majority of the load that was carried by Vazquez now shifts to 34-year-old Tim Hudson.

The Braves opted to re-sign Hudson to a three-year, $28-million dollar extension in November after the former 20-game winner made a successful return from Tommy John surgery late last year.

In seven starts after re-joining the Braves rotation, Hudson went 2-1 with a solid 3.61 ERA.

Hudson joins a staff comprised of Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami.

Jurrjens and Hanson are the team’s rising young stars and should serve as the backbone of this rotation for the foreseeable future.

Atlanta should also benefit from getting a full season out of Tommy Hanson, who finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting this winter.

The Braves called up their rookie sensation in June and watched Hanson soar to an 11-4 record with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts.

Atlanta is hoping Lowe bounces back and enjoys a resurgent season after the veteran righty struggled in his first year with the Braves.

While still netting 15 wins for the club, Lowe also posted a 4.67 ERA, second-highest of his career.

Kawakami is expected to improve in his second season in the U.S.

The Japanese standout was a 33-year-old rookie last season and ended the year with an impressive 3.86 ERA despite a 7-12 record.

Despite losing Vazquez, Atlanta’s rotation is still stacked with a plethora of talent and a good mix of youth and experience.

Whether the talent on paper translates to wins on the field rests largely on not just the starters but the entire staff’s ability to stay healthy.

Atlanta’s additions of Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito at the back end of their bullpen should benefit the rotation by giving the team security late in games.

But, with Wagner’s history of injuries and the age of these hurlers, it is critical that both relievers don’t get overworked in an effort to preserve them for the duration of the season.

The good news is the always pitching rich Braves have the pieces in place yet again to put up impressive numbers while contending for a playoff spot.

It is not often a team could lose a Cy Young candidate, like the Braves did in Vazquez, and still have a chance to have arguably one of the deepest rotations in baseball.

All these years later, the importance of a pre-spring training pitching camp is not lost on the Braves or the pitchers who jump at the opportunity to participate in it.


Braves deal Vazquez to Yanks for Melky Cabrera

New Brave Melky Cabrera

The Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees agreed on a deal sending SP Javier Vazquez and left-handed reliever Boone Logan to NYY for OF Melky Cabrera, rookie left-hander Mike Dunn and right-handed pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino.

The Braves, who had an abundance of starting pitching, had hoped to retain Vazquez’s services and instead tried unsuccessfully for the past month to move veteran Derek Lowe.

But, in the end, they found no teams willing to take on Lowe’s hefty contract, which still had three years and $45 million remaining on the original four-year deal he signed with Atlanta last offseason.

The Yankees will pick up all of Vazquez’s $11.5 million salary for the 2010 season.

Vazquez, who will be eligible for free agency next winter, enjoyed a career year for Atlanta last season, going 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 219 1/3 innings pitched.

While Vazquez proved to be a valuable asset to Atlanta’s rotation last year, the Braves felt comfortable enough with their depth at starting pitching to make this move in an effort to improve other areas of their club while also receiving increased financial flexibility.

The Braves rotation stood atop the National League last season with a 3.52 ERA.

Vazquez also had a no-trade clause to West Division teams which limited the pool of suitors Atlanta could engage in trade talks with about the right-hander.

Throughout his career, Vazquez has struggled in the American League, often proving to be much more effective with National League clubs.

This will be Vazquez’s second stint with the Yankees.

It comes as somewhat of a surprise that the Bronx Bombers would pursue Vazquez again.

He spent the 2004 season in pinstripes but posted an unimpressive 4.91 ERA in 32 starts with the club and was dropped from the postseason rotation.

In Cabrera, the Braves added a bat to their line-up but not the power hitter many had expected them to acquire.

In 2009, the 25-year-old switch-hitter posted a .274 average with 13 HR and 68 RBI in 154 games for the Yankees.

Cabrera, who primarily played center field for New York last season, has the versatility to play all three outfield spots and possesses a strong arm and provides solid defense.

With Nate McLouth expected to start in center for Atlanta next year, Cabrera is likely to begin spring training in right field for the Braves, barring another move.

The highlight of the deal for Atlanta comes in prospect Arodys Vizcaino.

Vizcaino, 19, was recently rated by Baseball America as the #3 prospect in the Yankees organization.

Last season, Vizcaino went 2-4 with a 2.13 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 10 starts at short-season Class A Staten Island.

The third player coming over to Atlanta in the deal for Vazquez is left-handed rookie reliever Mike Dunn.

In four appearances with the Yankees last season, Dunn posted an inflated 6.75 ERA.

However, the 24-year-old lefty went 4-3 with a 3.31 ERA while racking up 99 strikeouts in 73 1-3 innings in the minor leagues in 2009.

He also had two saves in 38 appearances in AA and AAA last season.

This move appears to be a pre-cursor for other moves for Atlanta. reports that the Braves have freed up approximately $9 million dollars with this trade after subtracting Vazquez’s $11.5 million and adding on the estimated $3 million Cabrera will receive in arbitration this year plus figuring in the $500,000 the Braves will receive from the Yankees once this transaction is complete.

With the money saved in this deal, the Braves look to continue their pursuit of a power-hitting outfielder, first baseman or perhaps both.

Johnny Damon and Jason Bay were linked to Atlanta recently but both still figure to cost more than Atlanta is willing to spend.

The Braves may still opt to pursue free agent Xavier Nady, who could play the outfield or first base, and should come cheaply as he is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.

Atlanta could also decide to make a trade involving an outfielder, maybe even the newly acquired Cabrera, for a better upgrade.

Dan Uggla remains a possibility for the Braves, who could shift him to first base, if needed.


More Winter Meetings chatter… The Braves try to wheel and deal

Free agent OF Xavier Nady

It didn’t take long for the Braves to receive permission from Rafael Soriano’s agent that his client would approve a trade.

Shortly after accepting the club’s offer of salary arbitration, Peter Greenberg informed the Braves that Soriano preferred to remain a late-innings reliever in 2010.

When told that those roles had already been filled by Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, Greenberg gave Wren a list of teams that Soriano had discussed signing with before deciding to accept the Braves’ arbitration offer.

The Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, and Orioles were believed to have shown interest in Soriano with the Angels emerging as a new suitor for the right-hander this morning, according to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal’s twitter.

Atlanta has received a plethora of calls regarding Soriano and were believed to have met with at least five clubs on Tuesday about him.

Wren expects the Braves to move him soon — possibly before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday, or within the next week to ten days.

Besides fielding calls regarding Soriano, Wren also spent a great deal of Tuesday discussing possible destinations for RHP Derek Lowe.

While the team still feels confident they can move Lowe over Javier Vazquez, as they desire, they now have reason to believe that the outfielder and/or first baseman they are seeking will not come through the trade market.

More than likely, the trades of Soriano and/or Lowe will net the Braves a group of prospects.

Atlanta has been reportedly searching for more depth at shortstop as they believe their farm system lacks insurance possibilities at that position, in the event that Yunel Escobar goes down with an injury.

The level of prospects or return the Braves receive for Lowe will depend heavily on how much of his salary the club is willing to eat.

As for Wren’s continued search for offensive help, the Braves GM feels that his outfielder/first baseman is likely to come from the current pool of free agents.

The Braves and Xavier Nady have expressed mutual interest in bringing the free agent outfielder to Atlanta.

Wren had interest in acquiring the 31-year-old Nady in 2009 before he was traded to the Yankees. Nady’s health is also an issue as he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. The club will further evaluate his offseason progress to alleviate any lingering injury concerns they may have before signing him to a contract.

During the ’07 and ’08 seasons combined, Nady hit .293 with 45 home runs and posted an .840 OPS.

The Braves also announced Tuesday their decision to designate OF Ryan Church for assignment to make room for Soriano on their 40-man roster.

The club had received minimal trade interest in Church over the past week, but if not traded, Atlanta had planned to non-tender him by Saturday’s deadline.

Soriano’s decision to accept arbitration forced the Braves to make this move sooner than anticipated.

Church, who was acquired by the Braves in a July 10 trade involving beleaguered RF Jeff Francoeur, hit .260 with two HR and 18 RBIs in 44 games during his tenure with the club in 2009.

By designating him for assignment, the team now has 10 days to trade or release the oft injured Church.

The Braves also discussed adding utility player Ross Gload to their bench yesterday before Gload and the Phillies agreed to a two-year contract.

Scouting reports on Gload praised his strong defensive skills, which propelled the Braves’ interest, but his lack of power was worrisome to a team who is looking to add more pop to its lineup.

As the Braves look towards today, the last full day of meetings, they will continue to search for potential destinations for Soriano and/or Lowe.

The club’s beat writer Mark Bowman reported on his blog that Wren mentioned at least one team had interest in dealing for both pitchers.

Bowman believes the division rival Phillies or Mets could be the mystery team, but the chances of Wren dealing his impact players to his chief competition are slim to none.

The team’s thinking on Nady, if signed, is that he will serve mainly as Atlanta’s first baseman with the versatility to spot start in the outfield, if needed.

Martin Prado, the club’s projected opening day second baseman, could see time at first base when Nady is manning the outfield.

While super utility player Omar Infante could play almost any infield position, the team may look to add another middle infielder later in the offseason to increase depth in that area.

Bowman also speculates that with the Yankees closing in on a deal for OF Curtis Granderson, that they could make Nick Swisher available.

The Braves had interest in Swisher last season and the hard nosed outfielder would surely bring a great level of intensity and much needed spark to Atlanta’s offense.

Swisher, who could also play the outfield or first base, would provide the Braves with the same level of flexibility as Nady.

Former Brave Mark DeRosa could be a potential fall back option for Atlanta, but only if his price tag drops considerably.

Wren will continue to explore these options and more as he further assesses his club’s needs going forward.


Who will be manning the outfield in Atlanta in 2010?

Georgia native Mike Cameron could be a fit

Now that the Braves have finalized their one-year, $7 million deal with new closer Billy Wagner (the contract also includes a vesting option for 2011), they can move on to addressing their biggest need this off-season — adding a right-handed bat and more pop to their significantly left-handed heavy line-up.

With Major League Baseball’s winter meetings scheduled for December 7-10 in Indianapolis, rumors are buzzing about who the Braves have interest in to fill that role.

Will the team look to pursue a free agent or engage in trade talks to find its new slugger?

Most likely, the Braves will look to upgrade its offense via trade.

Some names that have been linked to Atlanta early this off-season have been most notably Brewers OF Corey Hart and Nationals OF Josh Willingham.

The Corey Hart to the Braves rumors started because of Milwaukee’s desire to add a front-line starting pitcher to its rotation next season and Atlanta’s surplus of starting pitching talent which has the team looking to trade either Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez for the bat they covet.

The Braves would love to move Lowe and his contract over Vazquez and his name was linked to the Brewers in the Corey Hart chatter.

However, I don’t really believe this rumor actually had any validity to it. I think the report stemmed from speculation of what teams could be potential suitors for Lowe and would match up with the Braves’ need for a young, affordable bat that they would have to part with in return.

The Nationals Josh Willingham rumor seems to hold more weight, as the Braves’ interest has been reported by numerous media outlets steadily this off-season.

Willingham makes sense for a lot of reasons.

He hits both right and left-handed pitching consistently, with a .264 average against righties and a .265 average against lefties. The Braves, who have used a platoon in their outfield the past couple of seasons, wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore with Willingham.

He also has the pop the Braves are seeking to add to their outfield.

Willingham has averaged 22 home runs since 2006 and hit 24 last season with 61 RBI and 70 runs scored for the lowly Washington Nationals.

Most importantly, Willingham’s .863 OPS ranked 13th amongst all outfielders last season.

Considering Atlanta’s collective outfield OPS was next-to-last in the National League last season, this statistic could prove most appealing to the Braves.

Willingham is also just 30 years old and possesses an affordable contract that would be attractive to the Braves.

The biggest downside and an obvious area of concern for Atlanta is Willingham’s notable defensive struggles.

I have my doubts that the Braves, who have always modeled themselves as a pitching and defense franchise first, would take a chance on a guy who hasn’t been reliable with the glove.

Other names that are reportedly on the Braves’ wish list are Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford and Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer.

You’d have to imagine that Javier Vazquez would need to be included in either deal to net a return of a Crawford or Cuddyer.

And, while the Braves may still be forced to trade arguably their best pitcher last season in Vazquez to get the big bopper they desire, in my opinion, the chances of Atlanta landing either of those bats are slim to none.

When assessing the free agent market of hitters, it is far less enticing for the Braves.

Obviously, Matt Holliday or Jason Bay would be an ideal fit for Atlanta but the Braves don’t even figure to test the waters with the two most sought after free agent bats on the market, as both stand to ink long-term lucrative contracts that will be far out of the club’s price range.

A more realistic option is Georgia native Mike Cameron, who was not offered arbitration from Milwaukee and would fit the need of a right-handed bat for the Braves.

Atlanta has had interest in Cameron for years and while I think it would have been better for the club to pick him up, say two years ago, the 36-year-old veteran still has some pop left in his bat.

Cameron hit .250 with 24 home runs and 70 RBI for the Brewers last season and would serve as a nice one-year stopgap for the Braves until Jason Heyward, one of the game’s best prospects, is ready to take over full-time.

Other free agents the Braves may look at as fall back options are Xavier Nady and Marlon Byrd.

The hot stove figures to keep burning once GM Frank Wren arrives in Indianapolis for the winter meetings on Monday as more names and potential rumors will continue to emerge surrounding his club.

In the meantime, the waiting game — and speculating, continues.


To trade Vazquez or not to trade… that is the question?

Javier Vazquez

What in the world will the Atlanta Braves decide to do with Javier Vazquez?

That is the burning question surrounding Braves Nation on the MLB Hot Stove this week at the GM meetings.

Vazquez, 33, is coming off a career year and posted one of the best seasons of any major league pitcher in 2009.

His 15-10 record is misleading as he could have won at least 18 games with better run support from the Braves’ often inconsistent offense. The eye popping stats to take note of for Javy were his 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts with only 44 walks in 219-1/3 innings pitched.

Vazquez has also proven to be a durable horse, pitching more than 200 innings in nine of the past ten seasons.

So, why on earth would a Braves team who came thisclose to playing October baseball consider trading arguably its best starting pitcher?

I’ll break it down:

Atlanta is blessed with a wealth of starting pitching depth.

As it stands, their rotation is set to return Jair Jurrjens, rookie sensation Tommy Hanson, veteran Derek Lowe, Japanese standout Kenshin Kawakami, and Vazquez, who has one year, $11.5 million remaining on his contract.

Add Tim Hudson to the mix, who the Braves have agreed to terms on a new three-year contract, which is set to be finalized after the veteran hurler’s MRI on his elbow is completed later this week, and Atlanta will have six starting pitchers with only five slots to fill.

It is no secret that Atlanta is looking to add a power, right-handed bat to its lineup.

This year’s crop of free agent hitters appears underwhelming, which makes the likelihood of the Braves finding a bat on the trade market that much higher.

While the club would much rather trade Derek Lowe or would even prefer to move Kawakami over Vazquez, it seems Javy is the prized piece that could net the Braves the greatest return.

Kawakami is still owed $13.3 million over the next two years, but the Braves should be able to find suitors for him, if they decide to go that route.

Lowe’s remaining three-year, $45 million dollar contract stands to be much tougher to move, without the team taking on a portion of the salary to unload him, which I can’t see the cost conscious Braves agreeing to do.

Despite Lowe’s disappointing first season in Atlanta, the veteran righty posted a 15-10 record with an inflated 4.67 ERA, his career track record makes him a strong candidate for a rebound season.

And, with the dearth of starting pitching talent on the free agent market, some teams desperately seeking an added boost to their staff, may opt to engage in trade talks with the Braves regarding Lowe.

However, in the event that the Braves did move Kawakami or Lowe, they likely aren’t going to get the young power hitter they covet in return.

That may only happen if the team makes Vazquez available.

But, even though Atlanta knows that Javy is a hot commodity and that he may not duplicate the success he enjoyed last season, it still seems unlikely the team will move him.

He has a no-trade clause to teams in the NL West and AL West, but that doesn’t seem to be the barrier stopping a potential deal from being struck, as there are plenty of other trade partners the Braves could find a match with.

It is not just Vazquez’s numbers alone but the outpouring of support in the clubhouse for his return that has played a key role in the Braves’ decision to now consider offering a contract extension to the right-hander, in lieu of a trade.

Many players and team officials have credited Vazquez as being a mentor to the young Jair Jurrjens, helping him ascend to record heights this season.

Since Vazquez has openly expressed his desire to remain in Atlanta this season and beyond, it is not unreasonable to think an extension could be worked out between the two sides this offseason.

It seems to be the Braves’ first priority and desire to retain Vazquez’s services at this point, however, if the club does approach Vazquez about an extension and the two can’t come to terms on a deal, it is then that I think the team will more seriously explore potential trade scenarios.

The Braves know Vazquez’s value if they make him available, but the tipping point may be if the team feels they could lose him at the end of next season to free agency.

If that is the case, then Atlanta may want to sell high on Vazquez and cash in while they still can.

In the meantime, let the speculation continue…..



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