The Braves have 45 million to spend in an attempt to fix the team that won only a mere 72 games last year. Their main needs: starting pitching and outfield help. Earlier, I wrote that the Braves are out of the Jake Peavy market. Since that is over, I expect them to look toward free agency to fill their holes. They won’t go after CC Sabathia, but Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and AJ Burnett are good options. Bigger market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs will be in on these guys, but the Braves can spend more than all of them. (if the Yankees sign Sabathia first) They might even decide to pursue two of the three. The goal here seems to be respectable in ’09, but truly competing for a world series in ’10. Both Burnett and Lowe will probably get deals in the 4 year, 64 million range. Burnett already has an offer; the Blue Jays want him back for 4 years, 54 million. That won’t get it done. Dempster seems likely to stick with the Cubs, but then again I’m not sure if they’ll go all in. If the Braves offered 64 million, they’d probably get him. The Cubs don’t feel they have to overpay because they don’t have as big of a need at starting pitcher. In the end, I think Dempster gets a bigger offer but accepts the Cubs’ cheaper one. The Yankees could go crazy and offer Burnett up to 5 years, 80 million. They would definatly get him for that amount. Lowe is more likely, because the Yanks will be out of the bidding by then. The Red Sox might be tough to compete against because they are Lowe’s prefered destination. Hopefully for the Braves sake, the Red Sox don’t get involved. If the Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez, they won’t be able to offer the amount other teams could. They aren’t that big of a factor. The Braves could just pursue a cheaper free agent if they can’t get two top-of-the-rotation starters. Jon Garland is an option; so is Oliver Perez.
If the Braves don’t add two starters, they could turn to outfield help. Pat Burrell is an option if they can afford him. Raul Ibanez might make more sense. If they really want to spend, Adam Dunn is possible. Bobby Abreu might be looked into. Through trade, Jermane Dye and Magglio Ordonez are options if they are avialable. Overall, it looks like the Braves will be a solid team next year, but 2010 is the time where they will be really good because their prospects will be in the majors, and Tim Hudson would be back from injury.
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It seems as if it is getting more and more likely that the Tigers will place Magglio Ordonez on the trade block this offseason. They want to open up payroll so they can go out and fill a need or two via free agency. Their projected payroll if they keep everyone is about 125 million. They want to lower it to the 110 range. Magglio would have to go in that situation. He is set to make 15 million next year. They could probably stomach a 115 or 120 million payroll. So if they trade Magglio they still have 5 to 10 million to spend. One possible destination is to the Blue Jays for Scott Downs and a pitching prospect. Downs is the reliever they need. Marcus Thames could handle right field, but a platoon would be more helpful. They can sign David Eckstein for shortstop. A bargain-basement starter and a righty-mashing right fielder could also help. Maybe they sign Eric Hinske or Cliff Floyd. The starter they add could be a guy like Randy Wolf or Paul Byrd. Another possibility is to trade Ordonez to the Braves for Rafeal Soriano or Mike Gonzalez. One of them could be available if the Braves resign John Smoltz for the bullpen. Both are signed on one year deals. They could then do the same I stated above to fill their other holes. It would be tough for the Tigers to improve by trading away one of their best hitters, but it is possible if they can fill multiple holes with the money opened up.
Arguably the bigest dissapiontment of the 2008 season, the Detroit Tigers will try to retool this offseason. It will be tough, however, because they want to cut the payroll from 135 million to 110 million. They already have about 105 million locked in on contracts, so look for them to either make one samll signing or make a trade to clear salary and then go after a bigger free agent. One player they could consider trading is Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez’s contract is kind of tricky. He makes 18 million next season, and has two 15 million club options for 2010 and 1011. It’s not that bad, but if Mags get 27 more at bats this year (he definatley will unless the Tigers sit him becasue of the options) the options for 2010 and 2011 will vest. If I’m a team looking in to trading for Magglio, I’m not sure I would want to take on 3 years, 48 million for a declining slugger. Plus, if they lose him it doesn’t matter what kind of free agent they sign becasue no right fielder on the market is as good as him, and they would just add tiny pieces if they spent the money on many players. So a Magglio trade is unlikely. The next guy is Carlos Guillen. He has been a good player for them, but will earn 12 million next year and 13 million in ’10 and ’11. This is also unlikely, but because of the weak free agent market for third and first baseman, he could bring back a decent pitcher. It would hurt their team losing this guy, though. That’s it for position players. Next up is starters they could trade. Justin Verlander is safe. They probably want to keep Jeremy Bonderman and see if he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Dontelle Willis and Nate Robertson are the most likely to be shopped. Willis has 22 million left on his deal through 2010. Robertson has 17 million on his deal through 2010. If the Tigers eat 7 million, Robertson might be atractive to some team looking for a veteran starter with upside. If they can do a deal like that I would pull the triger in a second. That would give them 10 million so they can sign a starter like Freddy Garcia or Paul Byrd to a small deal, then sign a reliever. Not great, but it doesn’t hurt. The bottom line is that the Tigers don’t have much flexibility and likely won’t be competing in ’09.