Whether you agreed or disagreed with the Braves’ offseason trades involving Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Craig Kimbrel, there at least were reasonable arguments supporting all of the deals. Heyward and Upton were a year away from free agency, Gattis wasn’t viewed as a long-term answer at catcher and Kimbrel was viewed as expendable during a rebuilding period, especially given San Diego was (foolishly) willing to take on Melvin (B.J.) Upton, Jr.’s contract in the trade.
But trading starter Julio Teheran? That makes no sense.
Some readers emailed or Tweeted me questions a few weeks ago about the possibility of moving Teheran before the trade deadline, and I would imagine our David O’Brien has fielded similar queries. The only reason Teheran’s name is coming up is because he has struggled at times this season (6-5, 4.49) after two great years and has battled control issues (45 walks in 120.1 innings after only 51 in 221 the year before).
But at 24 years old, nobody should have expected he was a finished product after two great seasons.
Now, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal, who’s generally a solid reporter but whiffed in speculation on manager Fredi Gonzalez’s future, is at it again:
Two rival executives said Wednesday that the Braves are open to trading right-hander Julio Teheran — “quite open,” was how one put it.
However, a source with knowledge of the Braves’ thinking said that the team is not even considering such a move, explaining that Teheran is only 24, in the second year of a club-friendly six-year, $32.4 million contract and part of a deep crop of young pitchers the club worked hard to assemble.
All of that makes sense, but it’s not unusual for clubs to deny that a player is available until the moment he is traded. The Braves did just that during the offseason with Evan Gattis and Craig Kimbrel. Teheran’s age and contract make him attractive to other clubs as well as the Braves, despite his 4.53 ERA.
Team plans are subject to change – and sometimes vary according to a player’s performance. Teheran, in fact, is reversing his regression from earlier this season — he matched his career-high with 11 strikeouts against the Dodgers on Wednesday, and has pitched to a 2.81 ERA in his last four starts.
What if the Braves could trade Teheran for multiple pitching prospects and/or a young catcher?
Surely they would consider such a deal. Surely Teheran is not untouchable.
OK, let’s start with this: 1) NOBODY is untouchable, for the right deal. But you can say that about almost any player … on any team … in any sport … in any year; 2) OF COURSE, “Teheran’s age and contract make him attractive” to other clubs. That’s precisely why the Braves like him — that, and it doesn’t make sense to bail on a pitcher of his talents after one up-and-down season.
My view: This is pre-trade deadline drivel, whether concocted by a rival executive, Rosenthal or the Easter Bunny. I can’t imagine a scenario in which the Braves’ deal Teheran because he’s a guy with No. 1 starter potential (as he showed for two seasons) and the assets it would take for a team to acquire him from the Braves likely would exceed what that team would part with at the deadline.
Now, let’s talk about a former great Braves’ starter — John Smoltz. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. I leave for Cooperstown, N.Y., Friday. Here’s the first of several columns and blogs I’ll be filing: The competitive instinct that drove Smoltz on the field … and off the field, with hilarious results. Many stories shared by his close friend and comedian Jeff Foxworthy. To read, click here.
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