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Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later

July 29, 2017

Hugh Atkins

As the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 approaches, several teams must decide whether they will be buyers or sellers. The Atlanta Braves chose, wisely, I believe, to be sellers. They have no realistic chance of getting to the playoffs and, even if they somehow managed to defy the odds and squeak into the postseason, it is unlikely they would advance very far.

The Braves made no secret that they were open for business and they put left-handed starting pitcher, Jaime Garíca, in the showroom window. García is typical of the players that sellers dangle to general managers of teams who feel they need just one more pitcher. His salary for the remainder of the season is “only” $4.7 million. He is in the final year of his contract and will be a free agent at the end of the season; his remaining salary is not too much, especially if he helps get his team to the postseason.

As of Monday of this week, the Minnesota Twins thought they had a shot at making the playoffs, so they made a deal with the Braves to acquire García. In return, the Braves received right-handed pitching prospect, Huascar Ynoa, who, according to, is the 22nd-best prospect in the Twins’ organization. What else did the Braves get from the Twins? Actually, the Braves also threw in backup catcher, Anthony Recker–and agreed to pay $100,000 of Recker’s remaining salary.

© T.C.G.

At the time of the deal, García was 4-7 with a 4.30 earned run average. In his final two starts with the Braves he gave up only four runs and 11 hits in 14 innings. In his last start he pitched seven strong innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers and even hit a grand slam off the previously undefeated Alex Wood. García is a competent starting pitcher and he is left-handed. Competent starting pitchers are a hot commodity; left-handed starting pitchers who can breathe are a hotter commodity. Competent, left-handed starting pitchers are the hottest commodity. It seems to me that, given his recent performance and the looming trade deadline, García’s value was on the rise, which means the Braves could have gotten more for him had they only been a bit more patient.

Braves’ beat writers Mark Bowman and Mark Bradley were quick to point out that the Twins will pay the remainder of García’s salary, as if it were some act of charity or that this trade was a salary dump. The Twins “traded” for García, so they owe him the money. Marks Bowman and Bradley both insisted that the money the Braves are saving on García’s salary gives them the flexibility to make a move for a “controllable starting pitcher.” If future deals by the Braves hinge on freeing up $4.7 million, then there isn’t a lot of hope for the organization.

I understand the reasoning behind trading García. As I mentioned earlier, he will be a free agent at the end of the season, so, had the Braves kept him, they would not get anything in return at the end of the season. Apparently, the Braves decided to get nothing for him now rather than wait until the end of the season and get nothing for him then.

One last thing just for fun: the aforementioned grand slam by Jaime García was the first by a Braves pitcher since July 3, 1966 when Tony Cloninger hit two of them in one game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.

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