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did-the-braves-wait-too-long-to-trade-jair-jurrjens | November | 2011 Articles

Did the Braves Wait Too Long to Trade Jair Jurrjens?

Written by Joe Lucia on .

At midseason, Jair Jurrjens had a 1.87 ERA and a 12-3. He was incorrectly called a Cy Young candidate by many fans, by virtue of that low ERA. But at the end of the day, he was just a guy with a 5.29 strikeout rate. Some fans wondered if he should have been dealt at midseason for one of the many teams craving starting pitching. The Braves of course, were loaded at the time, with Mike Minor looking major league ready, but rotting in Gwinnett. Sure enough, Jurrjens had a 5.88 ERA after the break and walked nearly as many as he struck out, thanks to regression to the mean and his balky knee once again starting to give him problems. Here we sit on November 5th, and the team is looking to deal Jurrjens.

The team definitely should have tried to move Jurrjens at the break. His value has taken a huge hit since. Not only has his ERA spiked, but his rate stats have also regressed (he allowed nine homers in 41 1/3 second half innings after allowing just five in 110 2/3 first half innings). The team has placed Jurrjens on the market, and there is interest. The Braves are looking for a young outfielder in return. There are a lot of teams interested. I mean, who wouldn't be? Jurrjens might not be the best pitcher on the market, but look at this year's crop of free agent starters.  Out of the top five starters, Yu Darvish hasn't pitched in America, CJ Wilson has been a starter for two years, Roy Oswalt has a balky back and is old, Hiroki Kuroda is old and apparently wants to pitch in either LA or Japan, and Edwin Jackson has never been able to put everything together for a full season. Jurrjens isn't really a great pitcher, but you mean to tell me he couldn't crack that top five?

In all honesty, the Braves don't really need Jurrjens. They've got Tim Hudson, who will probably be around under 2013 (assuming his option is picked up), Tommy Hanson (under team control until 2015), Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor (neither of whom are arbitration eligible), a guy in Julio Teheran who dominated the IL last year and shouldn't waste away for another year there, a guy in Randall Delgado who endeared himself to the Braves brass by holding his own in the majors last year (despite awful peripherals), and Arodys Vizcaino, who was a dominant bullpen arm who could be a stud starter. Jurrjens is just an extra arm at this point, who's probably the fifth-most talented one of the bunch. Why not try to get some value for him?

Meanwhile, the outfield situation is a mess for the Braves. Jason Heyward should be entrenched in right field (but apparently isn't, because the front office is stupid), and Michael Bourn will be the center fielder next year, but is a free agent after the seasons. Martin Prado is the left fielder, but has an infielder's bat, and is on the block as well. The minor league system is a mess in the outfield, with no impact bats in the top two levels of the system. The only possibly way that you can call the outfield of the upper levels of the system a strength is if you're enamored with career minor leaguers like Constanza, Gartrell, Carter, Young and Ramirez, or guys who haven't been able to put a good season together, like Jones and Harrilchak. Neither of those groups of players really tickle me in the right places.

If the team is able to swing a deal and ship Jurrjens and/or Prado out in a deal (like the one proposed to the Royals for Wil Myers and Lorenzo Cain) to acquire a future center fielder and a future corner infielder, I'd be happy. The Rockies are apparently also a good matchup, with Charlie Blackmon and Dexter Fowler as the rumored compensation. I don't like that deal nearly as much as the Royals pair. But regardless, I think it's been time to move Jurrjens for awhile. I just wish that the team acted sooner, as was able to get a better return. 

The same fans that clamored for his trade at midseason probably also did last offseason and the offseason before that. His value is probably just off its high, but undoubtedly higher than it was after he posted a 4.64 ERA in 2010 while only throwing 116 innings. If he had been healthy at the end of the year and the braves had made the playoffs, I'm sure they would have wanted him in the rotation rather than one of the rookies. It's easy to say in hindsight that he should have been traded at the deadline, but I don't think it was necessarily a huge hit to his value.


@NateWashuta I think the whole thing depends on what we do at SS. Then we can look at what we can do about LF. Personally I think the Braves should re-sign Jack Wilson and allow him to share with Tyler Pastornicky then you have a package of Jurrjens, Prado and whatever for a sluuger who can play LF. Andre Ethier immediately comes to mind.

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