How long should Braves wait on move to Albies, Swanson?

Ozzie Albies, who is playing shortstop with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, is considered the parent club's shortstop or second baseman of the future, with Dansby Swanson (Karl Moore / Gwinnett Braves)

Ozzie Albies, who is playing shortstop with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, is considered the parent club’s shortstop or second baseman of the future, along with Dansby Swanson, who’s with Double-A Mississippi. (Karl Moore / Gwinnett Braves)

I don’t mean to keep picking on Braves shortstop Erick Aybar who somewhat has become the everyday face of the team’s’ failings this season. (The focus shifted from his .175 batting average to him nearly choking on a chicken bone in Pittsburgh. Not sure if that affects his WAR.)

But here’s the question: As the Braves’ front office spends the rest of season waiting for the finish line, they’ll have to start making decisions like the ones involving prospects Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson. Both have been knighted as the team’s shortstop and second baseman of the future — Albies is in Triple-A Gwinnett; Swanson is in Double-Mississippi — although nobody is certain which will play where, or for that matter when.

There’s obviously a temptation to bring one or both up to the majors at some point this season and begin the process of acclimating them to big league pitching. But the issues are two-fold: 1) Potentially rushing them and therefore damaging their development; 2) Starting their “service” clock, which determines how long the team will have salary control.

Here’s the choice: Public relations or economics.

PR screams: Make the move(s) now.

Economics scream: wait.

As Jeff Passan of Yahoo writes:

By bringing either up this year, it starts their service clock in the midst of a truly worthless season. Surely the Braves learned their lesson about not minding service time by starting Jason Heyward in the big leagues and losing the extra year of control most teams prioritize. Aybar’s play could become so malodorous that Atlanta feels like it needs to make a P.R. move, considering the team moves into a new stadium next year.

The Braves need some good PR. They’re 12-31 and their season is relatively over with 119 games left. If you’re looking at this from a marketing perspective, that 62 home games, or more 3,074,332 seats to fill. I don’t know how many people would actually buy tickets just to watch Albies or Swanson this season but they’re certainly not going to show up to watch Aybar.

Aybar was a career .276 hitter with a .315 on-base percentage, .374 slugging percentage  and a .694 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). In 40 games with the Braves, he’s hitting .175 with a .216 OBP, .204 slugging and a .421 OPS. He appears to be drinking from the B.J. Upton/Dan Uggla fountain of devolution.

Via Passan again:

Aybar, the Atlanta Braves’ 32-year-old shortstop, is currently on pace to post the single worst season for a hitter in the past century. His line: .175/.216/.204. That .421 OPS would shatter the record of .461. Aybar’s OBP would be the worst as would his SLG. Same for his batting average, if not for Ryan Howard. And then to have the indignity of missing a game because he got a chicken bone stuck in his throat. If Aybar weren’t making $8.5 million for this festival of sucktitude, you might feel bad for him.

I can’t add anything to that.

So what should the Braves do? I lean toward: suck it up and wait. But there’s going to be enormous pressure to bring one or both up this season to give fans a sneak peak.

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23 comments
iamthebagman2
iamthebagman2

@JeffSchultzAJC So you trade maybe the best defensive shortstop in history for the worst hitting shortstop in a century. Brilliant.

TideDawg
TideDawg

You get the feeling that Aybar doesn't care and doesn't want to be on this team. The Braves release him, he still gets his money and the chance to sign with another team. Win Win for Aybar. I'd send him to Rome and let him finish the season there.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

Agreed.  He is doing a full Melky.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

If good PR is what Coppy/Hart and the ownership is after ,how about lowering ticket and concession prices for the remainder of the 2016 season? Do Aybar a favor and DFA him,if you cannot get another team to take him at a huge discount ( if any team would give the Braves $1000 they should take it) then release him.Just take another loss (Swisher,Bourn, Bonifacio, and Olivares) ,he would not be the only player the Braves are paying to play elsewhere or not at all.But I doubt Coppy/Hart will take a chance on burning a year of control for Swanson or Albies just to win another handful of games in 2016.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Buschleaguer "If we truly were going to tank, we wouldn’t have had Aybar come back in the trade."  John Coppolella, Nov 2015


Although Aybar will hit free agency at the end of this season, Braves GM John Coppolella insists the 32-year-old is a key member of the team.

"Erick Aybar was a big part of the Andrelton Simmons trade," Coppolella said. "We don’t want to trade Erick Aybar; he's a great, winning player. We need to win more games this year, and he’s going to be a big part of that. So we’re very happy to hold onto Erick Aybar."  March 2016


By some accounts, Aybar has been the WORST player in major league baseball this season.  What should really concern every Braves fan is how HORRIBLE Coppy was in evaluating the talent of Erick Aybar 6 months ago, and throughout spring training.  EPIC FAIL comes to mind.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Buschleaguer It's also worth reminding that Erick Aybar is the THIRD highest paid (active) player on the Braves payroll this season at $8.75 Million.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@DrTruth

Not to try and defend Coppy's evaluation of Aybar before the season, But who could have foreseen the dramatic drop in Aybar's offensive stats? His performance thus far is as bad as BJ Upton's in Atlanta. On the bright side he is only owed $6.5 million and will be out of Atlanta before the end of 2016.The mistake Coppy made was not flipping Aybar during the off season. He was on the defensive after trading the popular Simmons and over hyped Aybar's offensive stats in comparison to Simmons' offensive shortcomings. The main factor was dumping the back end of Simmons' contract and that the Braves have a limited (1 year) financial commitment to Aybar. This is more of the issue I have with Coppy/Hart 's front office , the lack of just being honest with the fans. 2016 is a rebuilding year after a massive tear down of the roster in 2015.No way the Braves were going to contend in 2016 or 2017. 

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Buschleaguer  You're more forgiving than me.  I keep hearing about how Coppy is a Saber Genius.  I keep hearing how there's a virtual army of talent scouts under Coppy who are also well versed in Saber.  So when Coppy decides to trade away one of the best defensive SS in a generation, I expect more in return than getting the WORST player in MLB.

If you or I traded and got back the worst player in baseball, well, that's kind of expected.  But not Coppy and his army.  Someone, somewhere should have, at the very least, said, "We need to take another look at Aybar because his numbers aren't looking exactly right."  Clearly that never happened.

In fact, I think it would be incredibly difficult to say, "Let's go out and see if we can trade for the absolute worst player in baseball", and then try to go out and do it.  The fact that Coppy did it without even trying to do it is unforgivable IMO....Especially considering the extreme value of a Simmons.

And you're right, he missed a chance to flip him.  In March there was good interest in him and Coppy said what I posted above.  That made the original mistake even worse.  Now he's virtually worthless....

WSP
WSP

Braves need to decide soon who will be SS and 2b. Bring up Swanson  to Gwinnett. Give em 1 month together and bring em up. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

We live in an age where decisions in a supposedly professional sport are often no longer based on competition and performance, and even the competition and performance is suspect to suspicion due to PEDS etc. Evan Gattis wasn't good enough to play left field but Young, Gomes, Swisher et al were??? Class A rehab projects are more valuable than Major Leaguers who might actually contribute to wins?

Sorry, there is no clear answer to the question, other than to say if competing at the MLB level and the fans mattered like they should these guys might have been on the roster out of Spring Training.

RonMexico
RonMexico

@DawgDadII Gattis was never going to be a long-term answer in LF or at C. His fielding skills are just too poor to play every day in the NL, so it made perfect sense to send him to an AL team to DH. The guys who have filled in since then are just stopgaps, and not intended to be part of the team's future. What's the best-case scenario, assuming we don't make the trades we made? If Upton (x2), Gattis, Heyward and the others were still here, the Braves might have 16 wins instead of 12. They'd still be one of the worst in the league.

DrTruth
DrTruth

Wait until Aug 2nd to see if one or both of them survives the talent dump at the trading deadline.

jdcigar
jdcigar

Move Swanson to AAA soon and figure out who will play SS or 2B and them bring both up with the September call ups. 

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

They should both be in AAA so they can play together. Save the clock but get them ready.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

I say "wait" but at least decide which will move to 2nd base and have him start playing the position now.

dmack2027
dmack2027

@JeffSchultzAJC 1 year and 2 weeks. Season is lost. Foolish to burn their service time for another 1+ years. Rebuilding requires patience

im4ball
im4ball

@JeffSchultzAJC much more so it depends on the player. Some are tough enough to handle the ups and downs of majors and some need to progress

lewisalowe
lewisalowe

@JeffSchultzAJC Passan's Heyward example is a curious one given Braves did (barely) make playoffs in 2010. Not relevant comp. for this team.