Trade Rumors: Will Anyone Be Added?

As we approach the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline on July 31st, obvious speculation has been going on about who will be moved and where they will end up. In the past two days, some of the biggest dominoes have started falling as Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus was traded to the Blue Jays and Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran was sent to the Giants. While the Braves were in the running for Beltran, there are still plenty of different ways they can go at the deadline.

The Atlanta Braves have a very good lineup and while it would obviously be good for the franchise to win now, they are in no rush to jeopardize their bright future in a trade to win now. They have plenty of chips to play with and numerous scenarios that could play out.

Top of the rotation pitchers Tommy Hanson is only 24, Jair Jurrjens is 25, and while Tim Hudson is getting older, he looks like he still has a few more years left in the tank. Although 20-year-old pitcher Julio Teheran has made a few starts this season, he

[caption id="attachment_247" align="alignright" width="298" caption="GM Frank Wren is holding on to prized pitching prospect Mike Minor. (Photo by The Associated Press)"][/caption]

likely won’t contribute significantly until the 2012 season when he will more than likely earn a spot in the starting rotation. Another prospect likely to be in the rotation next year is talented 6’4” lefty Mike Minor. The reported reason that the Braves dropped out of the running for Carlos Beltran was because they were unwilling to part with Mike Minor.

The pitching rotation for the next few years looks like Hanson (24), Jurrjens (25), Hudson (36), Minor (23) and Teheran (20). While Beachy (24) will challenge for a spot in the rotation, Minor and Teheran both have higher ceilings once they reach their potential. Beachy, however, could either replace Tim Hudson once he retires in a few years, but may be more valueable to the team as a bargaining chip.

As far as 2011 goes, Atlanta is on pace to make the playoffs and acquiring another big bat or ace now would put them over the edge and turn their dangerous lineup into a downright title favorite. Come playoffs, most teams use a shortened pitching rotation of only four starters. The rotation right now is very top-heavy, meaning that the pitching drops off considerably after Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, and Tim Hudson. Derek Lowe and Brandon Beachy are right now contending for the fourth spot in the playoff rotation this year, but Lowe has struggled all year and Beachy is a rookie. Minor is still young, but could be the fourth pitcher if the right deal comes along and the Braves trade Beachy and Lowe for another bat. Right-handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino is also another prized prospect in the Braves organization who could garner some attention.

With the trade of Carlos Beltran to the Giants, the Braves are reportedly expressing interest in Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence, San Diego Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick, and White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin. All would be an upgrade in the outfield with Pence being the best option. The reported asking price for Pence is very high.

[caption id="attachment_246" align="aligncenter" width="298" caption="Houston Astros Outfielder Hunter Pence is one of the best players on the trading block right now. (Photo by The Associated Press)"][/caption]

The next few days leading up to the July 31st MLB Trade Deadline is sure to be exciting as there is still plenty of available talent on the trading block. If Braves General Manager Frank Wren can find a way to upgrade his lineup without hurting the Braves’ future success, 2011 could be the Braves’ year.

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