Bringing you some interesting discussion pieces this Sunday afternoon, courtesy of our old friends at the AJC and MLB.com:
First, and most important, the Braves are reportedly close to making a landmark signing. Looking back at the previous post, no, it's not Johnny Damon. It's not even a player who will play in the majors in 2010, or even 2011 (probably). Mark Bowman of MLB.com says the Braves are "nearing a deal" with 18-year-old Dominican shortstop phenom Edward Salcedo. Salcedo has been on the radar for a couple of years now: back when he was a Scott Boras client, he inked a deal with the Indians north of $2 million. That deal was voided over concerns about his age, but this time around, MLB has conducted an official investigation to verify Salcedo's age. The Braves reportedly initiated the investigation. He's expected to command a similar bonus this time around, so it would represent more than double the biggest bonus the Braves have ever handed to a Latin American signee.
He's strong, athletic, and supposedly plays a very smooth shortstop with a good arm. He's got great bat speed and plenty of power projection, but his swing has lots of moving parts so timing may be an issue against advanced breaking balls. He's an excellent fit for a Braves organization that's very thin on prospects left of second base. Salcedo's 6'3" frame could fill out and force him to move to third base as Chipper Jones' replacement, or he could keep his defensive chops and perhaps even move Escobar over to the hot corner. Salcedo would combine with Arodys Vizcaino to represent a huge shot in the arm to our minor-league system this winter.
A couple other quick housekeeping notes from the AJC:
David O'Brien brings word that reliever Scott Proctor is well ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, to the extent that he might even be ready to make the Opening Day roster. The seventh spot in the bullpen is pretty wide open, and Proctor certainly has the stuff to be a quality reliever if he can get healthy. However, there's a caveat: if he spends more than about three weeks in the minors, the Braves will control his rights for 2011 via his final year of arbitration. O'Brien makes the obvious comp between Proctor and Peter Moylan last spring, but remember how rusty Pete was in the earlygoing last year? I'm in favor of letting Proctor rehab the extra month while giving a youngster like Luis Valdez an audition in the 'pen. Then, we can keep Proctor an extra year if we want.
I know this is old news (ten days old, to be precise), but Jeff Schultz caught up with John Smoltz, and Smoltz says he's "open to anything" as far as where he plays in 2010. Naturally there's going to be speculation about a return to the Braves, even though the Atlanta pitching staff appears to be pretty crowded. It sounds like Smoltz is over the animosity that surrounded his departure last winter, and it also sounds like he's been keeping in pretty close touch with his Braves friends like Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox. Smoltz was victimized last year by a .354 BABIP, and still struck out nearly a batter per inning with a K/BB ratio north of four. Used carefully, he could still be a major-league asset. His return would sell tickets, and he's the kind of guy who could make it worthwhile to shuffle the staff a bit. But is it worth taking the chance of having to let him go again if he comes back in less than top-notch form?
Oh, and as a final thought, I'll go on the record as saying that as much as I wanted Johnny Damon, he wasn't worth $8 million to the Braves.
Comments on anything?