Vazquez for Cabrera

So, after hurting Derek “there wasn’t anybody holding a gun to their heads” Lowe’s precious feelings by openly shopping him (I guess you can’t really control leaks from other teams) the Braves traded Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan to the New York Yankees for [holds nose] Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino. As a Braves fan, I say “yuck” even though the deal isn’t really that bad. I liked Vazquez and I don’t care for Cabrera. But, when it comes down to it, this is a financial transaction, which I think signals that the Braves plan to sign a major free agent.

Here’s the deal. Vazquez is owed $11.5 million for 2010, and then he’s a free agent. I estimate that his performance will be worth about $12.5 million to an average team. Because the Braves and Yankees project to be above average teams, he’s actually a little more valuable. Even then, he’s not worth a great deal beyond his salary.

Cabrera is a poor man’s Jeff Francoeur. He’ll earn somewhere close to $3 million in arbitration, and put up some mediocre numbers off the bench. If he’s used properly—please, Bobby, use him off the bench only—that’s about what he’ll be worth. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him non-tendered after the season. Dunn and Logan are similar. Vizcaino rates high on many prospect lists, but he’s a long way off. Basically, this comes down to a swap of Vazquez’s surplus value for Vizcaino’s discounted expected future value.

The moral of the story is that when you’re paying a guy close to what he’s worth, you’re not going to get back much in a trade, even if he’s quite good.

The Braves just got a lot worse for next year as a team, but they also just shed a lot of payroll. The Braves aren’t expecting Cabrera to be the bat they need. To me this signals that the Braves are going after Bay or Holliday as a free agent, or they can take on a hitter with a big salary in a trade. Given the Braves problems with attracting fans at the ballpark, I think it’s important for the organization to build on last year’s momentum. Dumping Vazquez with no other corresponding moves doesn’t seem like the plan.

9 Responses “Vazquez for Cabrera”

  1. Mitch says:

    Cabrera is a poor man’s Jeff Francouer? Cabrera profiles as about an average center fielder, Francouer as maybe (he’s been all over the map according to UZR) a bit above average in right field. Offensively, they’re about equal. Francouer has more power but Cabrera better on base skills. Throw in that Cabrera has posted his numbers in the AL and Frenchie in the NL, and I’d say Cabrera is a better player than Francouer.

  2. Holla(r) says:

    Agreed with Mitch about Melky v. Francoeur, and I’m a Red Sox fan who’s spent most of Cabrera’s career mocking overenthusiastic Yankees fans’ projections for him. I still think Melky is a card-carrying member of the Future Fourth Outfielders of America club, but they denied Frechie’s membership years ago.

    You know, once they figured out that he’s not good at baseball. Someone should tell the Mets.

  3. Russ says:

    I really don’t think that you can evaluate this trade until we see what they do with the payroll that was freed up. If they go out and get a big bat at first base (no idea who) then the trade will look a lot better. Sure, the pitching staff got worse but Lowe is a very good candidate for a bounce back season. With the addition of another bat or two, this team will compete for a playoff spot.

  4. Russ says:

    And one more thing – no one sucks as badly as Jeff Francouer. Cabera isn’t a great player but the fact that he isn’t Jeff is a plus in my book and he has more upside. Jeff is what he is and will never be anything more than an out machine.

  5. Mac says:

    You know he’s probably the starting right fielder, don’t you?

  6. JC says:

    I doubt Cabrera will be the starter when the season opens.

    Career OPS+: Francoeur (92), Cabrera (88)

  7. Crawdaddy says:

    Francoeur profiles as replacement level in right field while Cabrera is about 1-1.5 WAR in center.

    One is certainly more useful than the other. With rather similar offensive output, but restricted to the corners . . . isn’t Francoeur a poor man’s Melky Cabrera?

    I figure Cabrera and Shaeffer will be splitting time in center with McLouth more fitting in left.

  8. Peter says:

    isn’t Francoeur a poor man’s Melky Cabrera?

    We’ll call him a dumb man’s (Omar Minaya) Melky Cabrera.

  9. Gary says:

    Sounds to me like the Braves are going to make a move for Adrian Gonzalez. Even with the signing of Troy Glaus, the need at 1B is still pretty significant.

    They could theoretically sign Bay and backload his contract, but the budget would explode in 2011.