It seems as though after several weeks of eerie silence, the trade talk is finally starting to increase. The main name on the chopping block right now is Mark Teixeira and while teams such as the Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, Yankees and Giants have all been linked with the Texas first baseman, the Braves appear to be in the driving seat.
If the rumours are to be believed, the Braves are willing to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia and that could prove decisive. There have been plenty of comments about the Rangers’ high asking price for Teixeira, but surely that should be expected? Some GMs seem to be sitting back and waiting for a completely lopsided deal to fall into their laps before they will pull the trigger. Every now and then, someone will make a clunker (Wayne Krivsky might trade Adam Dunn for a bag of beans, for example), but teams are generally too risk-averse to fall into that trap. Of course, the criticism a GM faces for a trade that goes wrong is longer-lasting that the criticism they will get for a trade they don’t make. That’s the nature of the beast. GMs are paid top money to make difficult decisions and if they don’t want to stand pat, sometimes they have to accept that if you want a quality player then you are going to have to give up quality in return.
The Braves are fortunate enough to have an embarrassment of riches in the catching position with McCann and Salty. Regardless of Salty’s talent, it makes sense for the Braves to move him when they already have an excellent catcher. The key will be whether Atlanta can agree a contract extension with Teixeira, who currently becomes a free agent at the end of the 2008 season. With Andruw Jones likely to move on at the end of this season, and with Chipper Jones in the tail-end of his career, the Braves may see Teixeira as the guy to build around over the next five or six years. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they do. He’s a good bet for 35 homers and 100+ RBIs each year, with a batting line around .290/.380/.540. alongside gold-glove defense at first. Turner Field might reduce his offensive numbers a little, but he could still put up an MVP season in the future.
Sadly for the Braves, Teixeira is represented by uber-agent Scott Boras. The odds of him advising his client to forgo the 2008 Free Agent cash bonanza are small. So it looks as though Atlanta will have to weigh up whether a year and a bit of Teixeira is a big enough prize for Saltalamacchia (who would still be under contract for five more years) and another prospect or two. We will soon find out.
One thing I do know: trade rumours involving Teixeira and Saltalamacchia make you check your spelling even more carefully than normal!