In today’s edition of our Morning(ish) Chop, I take 2 unrelated tweets and try to make a useful rumor out of them.
Okay, this much is blatantly obvious: the Atlanta Braves need a corner outfielder. Having secured the third base and catching positions, we know that’s one of the next priorities… and in fact, Alex Anthopoulos has declared this to be so.
You could essentially declare that the outfield spot is even more important than the others simply because there are no good options on the roster at all right now. As for the rest, they at least have some solid pitching and some bullpen pieces… though yes, we can argue about how good each group is.
So now let’s check this second tweet:
You might think “well, that’s obvious”, but a farm system ranking is not my point in showing you this.
The point is “Mitch Haniger might actually be available after all.”
the next question is the one that matters most: could this deal be set up nicely for the Braves to take advantage of? My answer is “Yes – Perhaps”.
Okay, stick with me here for a sec.
Mariner Deals Thus Far
According to info being compiled on MLB Trade Rumors about this potential (likely?) deal between the Mets and Mariners, the exchange could end up looking like this:
Outfielder Kelenic is New York’s 3rd-ranked prospect, a Top 100 prospect and their #6 overall 1st round pick in 2018.
Starter (possible reliever) Dunn is their #4 and a 2016 1st round draftee. He is ranked 89th overall by MLBPipeline.com.
Bautista is “a flamethrowing young righty with upside”, though unranked.
Before Thanksgiving, the Yankees did their own trade with Seattle:
While Sheffield is a starter, he’s still a bit of a Wild Card – not yet having the command necessary to trust him at the major league level. Nonetheless, he instantly became the mariners’ top overall prospect and he sits at #31 overall.
Thompson-Williams and Swanson slot in as the Mariners’ 9th and 14th prospects. Honestly, the ‘get’ for Jerry DiPoto seems a bit light to me.
So what I’m not really seeing here is a premium starting pitcher that’s close to the majors… and that’s where I believe the Braves could step in to fill that gap while obtaining Haniger in the process… and yeah: putting Seattle into the Top 5 of farm systems.
What it Would Take
The short answer is ‘2 or 3 Top 100 Prospects or the equivalent’. The Braves currently have something between 8 and 10 of these available, depending on how you count them.
The Braves might be able to get away with just 2 Top 100 guys (“and others”) provided that one of them is an ‘elite’ prospect, a thought that would bring Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson into play… possibly Mike Soroka.
Haniger himself is apparently sitting on the precipice of some sort of breakout… and one that needs to happen soon as he’s about to enter his Age 28 season (unless you believe that 2018 already marked that event).
He did club 26 homers in 2018 while OPS’ing .859 and batting .285 (.366 OBP)… numbers that would be highly complementary to the bats that Atlanta already has in play.
The gotcha is that his defense isn’t great… a bit below average, perhaps, but consider this: if you like Bryce Harper and his production, then you’d probably love Haniger: he’s providing offense at the same rate, defense at the same rate, and will cost roughly $30 million less in 2019. [Harper’s last 3 seasons: 3.0/4.8/3.5 fWAR]
So if you’re looking for a nice rumor this weekend, keep track of this one – that Haniger might be available and that the Braves might very well be after him.
This might be a good use of those pitching prospects.