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Frank Wren's Shopping List: Deadline Edition

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We're coming up on just 36 hours to go until the trade deadline, and while the talk is that the Braves are in for a quiet deadline, Frank Wren could still make a deal before 4 PM on Friday. All indications are that he's on the hunt for--if anything--a reliever. Here's my take on eight candidates that have been linked to the Braves by various outlets: keep in mind that some of these were suggested by writers as pure speculation, but they nonetheless bear worth a look.

Danys Baez, Baltimore Orioles
The Source: Mark Bowman
The Season: 35 G, 47 IP, 4.40 ERA, 4.98 K/9, 2.87 BB/9, 1.15 HR/9, 4.75 FIP
The Salary: Owed approximately $2.2 million for the remainder of 2009, will be a free agent at the end of the season
The Skinny: Baez has already done a tour of duty with the Braves, back in 2006 when he came over in a deadline deal that sent Wilson Betemit to Los Angeles and also brought Willy Aybar to Atlanta.. He's been mediocre or worse since Baltimore signed him to a three-year, $19 million contract prior to the '07 season. He missed 2008 to have Tommy John surgery and made some noise about becoming a starter once again in 2009, but has stayed in the 'pen and stayed mediocre. There's nothing here to see: he's not an improvement on anyone we already have.

Takashi Saito, Boston Red Sox
The Source: Mark Bowman
The Season: 34 G, 33 IP, 3.27 ERA, 8.18 K/9, 4.36 BB/9, 1.09 HR/9, 4.63 FIP
The Salary: Owed approximately $1 million in base salary for the rest of the season, but there are myriad incentive bonuses built into his contract. He could earn up to $2.5 million for appearance bonuses, plus up to another $1 million just for days on the active roster. He has an option for 2010 for his total 2009 salary including all incentives, so that option could be worth anywhere between $4 million and $7.5 million.
The Skinny: Saito had been absolutely dominant in his three seasons with the Dodgers until elbow issues led L.A. to non-tender him following the 2008 season. Before he left the Dodgers, he underwent an experimental procedure in which platelet-rich plasma was injected into his elbow in hopes of repairing a partially-torn tendon that would have otherwise required Tommy John surgery to repair. He was one of the Red Sox' collection of lottery tickets bought this winter (along with Brad Penny and John Smoltz). Clearly he hasn't recovered completely, as his walk rate has nearly doubled from its pre-injury levels. Still, he has been an effective option, and while the Red Sox are obviously a contending club, reports say they would be willing to move Saito for a prospect. Still, I can't see a move here because Boston certainly has the leverage to demand a high-caliber prospect, and there's no reason to overpay when there are several other options on the market.

Ron Mahay, Kansas City Royals

The Source: Mark Bowman
The Season: 33 G, 32 2/3 IP, 4.13 ERA, 8.54 K/9, 4.68 BB/9, 1.38 HR/9, 4.89 FIP
The Salary
: Owed approximately $1.6 million for the for the remainder of 2009, will be a free agent at the end of the season
The Skinny
: Another guy who has done a tour of duty for the Braves, as the oft-forgot other piece of the Teixeira deal. He's still pretty much the same guy the Braves traded for that fateful July, a solid, durable bullpen lefty who isn't limited to situational use (i.e., he can get right-handed hitters out as well), but who has enough control issues to keep him from being a stud. He's just probably not worth Wren's effort: in my opinion, the Braves' middle-relief guys are fine, and if we can't get a pitcher with late-inning capabilities, we're better off standing pat.

John Grabow, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Source: Mark Bowman
The Season: 44 G, 45 1/3 IP, 3.57 ERA, 7.74 K/9, 5.56 BB/9, 0.79 HR/9, 4.46 FIP
The Salary: Owed approximately $920,000 for the for the remainder of 2009, will be a free agent at the end of the season
The Skinny: See Mahay, Ron; except that Grabow hasn't already pitched for the Braves. Grabow is a southpaw who is more than a LOOGY, but his control has never been very good. He could likely be had for little more than a song, but again, he's not really a "setup man" and is he really an improvement on our middle relief corps, what with Kris Medlen throwing well and Jeff Bennett and Buddy Carlyle both on the mend?

Michael Wuertz, Oakland Athletics
The Source: Ken Rosenthal
The Season: 45 G, 47 1/3 IP, 3.23 ERA, 11.79 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 0.95 HR/9, 2.63 FIP
The Salary: Owed approximately $440,000 for the for the remainder of 2009, has two arbitration years left through 2011
The Skinny: Wuertz finally escapes Chicago, where they just couldn't seem to find a role for him, and blossoms in Oakland. He's essentially just a one-pitch pitcher, throwing his slider an astounding 62.6% of the time this year, but clearly it's working. Wuertz is the type of pitcher I think the Braves should pursue: he will be more expensive but he's a legitimate late-inning option, and the extra years of team control could certainly help to mitigate the potential losses of Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez this winter.

Brandon League, Toronto Blue Jays
The Source: Ben Nicholson-Smith
The Season: 42 G, 47 IP, 4.60 ERA, 9.00 K/9, 2.68 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9, 3.58 FIP
The Salary: Owed approximately $256,000 for the for the remainder of 2009, has three arbitration years through 2012
The Skinny: League was a one-trick pony much like Wuertz for much of his career, relying almost exclusively on his nearly-unhittable high-90s fastball, but this year he's started throwing his changeup a lot more, with very positive results. Don't let his high ERA fool you; his peripherals are better than they've ever been, and this could be a great opportunity to buy low on a relief pitcher with great stuff and three years of control left. Worth paying up for, since it will take a significant haul for J.P. Ricciardi to move him.

Nick Masset, Cincinnati Reds
The Source: Ben Nicholson-Smith
The Season: 35 G, 47 IP, 4.40 ERA, 8.29 K/9, 2.98 BB/9, 0.64 HR/9, 3.12 FIP
The Salary: Owed approximately $167,000 for the for the remainder of 2009, will be a free agent at the end of the season
The Skinny: Masset was starting to look like a disappointment after his involvement in two important trades earlier in his career: going to Texas in the trade that brought John Danks to Chicago in 2006, and then going to Cincinnati for Ken Griffey Jr. However, his conversion from swingman/long reliever to short reliever has appeared to benefit big time, as his average fastball velocity is up nearly two full MPH this year. He's still young with significant upside, and again there's the control factor. I like him, but I'm not sure I see Cincy dealing him.

Jason Frasor, Toronto Blue Jays

The Source: Ken Rosenthal
The Season: 41 G, 38 IP, 2.13 ERA, 8.05 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, 0.24 HR/9, 2 .48 FIP
The Salary: Owed approximately $580,000 for the for the remainder of 2009, has one arbitration year left through 2010
The Skinny: Frasor has always been a pretty middling middle reliever, and this year's improvement may be a mirage because of an astronomically low HR/FB rate (even though Frasor is allowing more fly balls than ever this year). Where League might be a buy-low candidate who's pitching better than his ERA indicates, Frasor is probably a sell-high kind of player who's not pitching nearly as well as he seems to be. I'm not sure I buy his breakout, and while he would help, I'd be wary about paying too much for a potential fluke with just one year of control remaining.

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