Examining Possible Eduardo Nunez Trade Matches With The Braves

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

The biggest story to come out this past weekend was probably the “Braves being interested in Eduardo Nunez” rumors that sprouted up after the infamous “sources” stated that Atlanta was interested in the Yankees’ utility infielder as a replacement for Alex Gonzalez at short.  Personally, I still can’t fathom why so many teams and fans are so high on Nunez, but if this is real then it’s certainly a path the Yankees should consider pursuing.  And with the slow pace that the Hot Stove Season is moving at right now, why not play the hypothetical trade game and look for potential trade pieces from Atlanta’s side for Nunez.  Given the Yankees’ needs this offseason, there are a few interesting possibilities out there on the Braves roster.

Brooks Conrad– 2B/3B

Hey, why not swap one utility guy for another?  Conrad is stuck behind Dan Uggla at 2nd and the Chipper Jones/Martin Prado duo at 3rd, and he would fit the bill of a solid defensive utility infielder that Nunez currently does not.

Conrad’s also not a complete waste of space at the plate.  He’s a switch hitter with good numbers against lefties (even if it was in just 24 AB in 2011) and the first thing that stands out is his BB rate, which has jumped to 9.0% in 2010 and 12.3% in 2011 as he started to get more plate appearances.  He also cut down on the K % a bit in 2011, a sign that even at 31 Conrad has some room to improve at the plate, and his contact rates show a guy who doesn’t make a lot of bad contact on pitches out of the zone.  His GB/FB rate is solid, and he’s got some pop in his bat for a little guy (career .199 ISO), so an appointment or two with renowned hitting doctor Kevin Long could help him maximize his skill set and tailor it to hitting in Yankee Stadium while cutting down on the swings and misses.

As a backup, Conrad brings more to the table than he takes off of it.  He can swing the bat a little, draws walks, can play 2 infield positions and probably SS if needed, and runs the bases well.  The addition of Conrad would cover the weaknesses present in Nunez’s game that became more obvious when he was forced to play every day last season, and Conrad would have to be considered an upgrade at the utility IF position over the likes of Brandon Laird and Ramiro Pena.  Being an older player, the Yankees might even have room to get another prospect, albeit a low-level one, included in the deal for the younger Nunez if the Braves are that in love with him.

Jair Jurrjens– SP

This is the name that everybody talks about in relation to any potential trade with the Braves. And they are reportedly already entertaining offers for the 25-year-old righty, so I might as well discuss him.

On the surface, Jurrjens doesn’t appear to be a good fit for the Yankees.  His fastball velocity and K/9 dropped to career-lows in 2011 at 89.1 MPH and 5.33 respectively, likely a result of the continuing injury issues that plague him.  At such a young age arm issues raise a big red flag, particularly when they appear to already be sapping a pitcher of his stuff.  And Jurrjens’ inconsistent GB/FB rates should raise concern as to how his game would translate to pitching in the AL East and Yankee Stadium, especially if he’s going to be pitching with a diminished fastball.

That being said, there are some things to like about Jurrjens.  He made a big improvement in cutting down on his walks in 2011, posting a career-best 2.61 BB/9.  And he is just 25 years old, presumably approaching the prime of his career with an already mature approach on the mound.  Working with Larry Rothschild could be just the thing Jurrjens needs to get the most out of his stuff and become a consistently effective pitcher.  And adding him through a trade lessens the commitment and risk the Yankees take on in terms of years and money.  He might not fit the bill of top-tier starter that the Yankees are looking for, but he’s also not Brien Gordon or Sidney Ponson.  You can’t say that Jurrjens in 2012 isn’t a better deal than Freddy in 2011.

Arodys Vizcaino– RHP

This one is admittedly a bit of a pipe dream, but it would be nice to see if the Braves were interested in moving the kid who was a key prospect piece in the fateful Javy Vazquez Reunion Tour trade of a couple years ago.  Bringing Vizcaino back could be a way for Cash to help right some of the wrongs of that trade, and with where Vizcaino is with the Braves right now it isn’t completely outside the realm of possibilities.

The Braves moved Vizcaino quickly through their system this year, giving him stops at all 3 MiL levels before calling him up for an audition late in the season.  Vizcaino was impressive in 97 combined MiL innings, striking out 100 while walking just 28.  But as he moved up through the system, he started being used more as a reliever than a starter.  And his 17.1 IP at the Major League level in 2011 were all as a reliever, with his BB/9 increasing dramatically to 4.67 while his K/9 dipped slightly to 8.83, still a good number but not representative of the stuff and command combo he exhibited in the Minors.

This transition from starter to reliever could signify some uncertainty in Atlanta as to how they see Vizcaino being used at the Major League level.  The trade of Derek Lowe could signify a willingness to let him compete for a rotation spot in 2012, but utilizing him as a reliever late in 2011 probably did more harm than good to his development as a starter, and the Atlanta bullpen is a bit crowded right now with the emergence of Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O’Flaherty, and Christhian Martinez in 2011.  If there is some internal waffling on what Vizcaino’s future holds with the organization, now would be a perfect time for the Yankees to capitalize and bring his name up in discussions.

These are just 3 names that stood out most to me in looking at Atlanta’s current roster.  I’m sure we could dig deeper into their farm system and find some attractive pieces as well or hypothesize about how to include Jason Heyward into a deal.  But a trade involving Eduardo Nunez isn’t likely to be a blockbuster, and it would behoove the Yankees to not try to make it one and risk bringing guys like ManBan and Dellin Betances into the discussion.  They have needs, the Braves apparently have a want in Nunez, and that should be the main focus of the discussions.  While Atlanta currently has a high asking price for Jurrjens, that should come down if and when talks become real, and including guys like Conrad and Vizcaino in the talks should still allow the Yankees room to use their mid-level pieces to finish a deal if a trade became that involved.  Going back to what I said last week and what anybody with any sense would say, for the right deal nobody should be off the table.  And from a Yankee perspective, adding value at their positions of need for Eduardo Nunez would be the right deal.

About Brad Vietrogoski

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

21 thoughts on “Examining Possible Eduardo Nunez Trade Matches With The Braves

  1. Never got the Nunez love either. People insisted he got better in the field as the year wore on, and I suppose he threw balls away at a lower rate, but he still displayed the most horrific instincts I’ve ever seen in a major league baseball player. The first time he charged a bunt and left third base open should have been the last.

    • I’ve been saying for over a year here and elsewhere that I don’t understand the vitriol directed at Nunez. As a kid who was clearly rushed prematurely into the biggest pressure cooker in MLB to back up two of the highest profile players to ever play the game, he didn’t too badly — certainly an infinite improvement over Ramiro Pena, the organization’s former IF stopgap. Likewise, i don’t get all the mystified comments over the fact there’s interest in him. Despite his scattershot aim and rookie-like mistakes, he brings quite a lot of value, among them: awesome speed, size, range, puts the bat on the ball and always has good at bats, better than average power for his position, a microscopic contract under control for several more years, and that scattershot arm of his is still a cannon that makes up for a lot of mistakes in the IF and can be a deadly asset from the OF. Plus, every report on him says he’s got a killer work ethic and a great team attitude. Add to the above his potential versatility as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner coming off the bench and experience playing under the bright lights of the Bronx at FOUR positions makes him an no-brainer target for any team looking to fill a bench spot, especially a NL club like the Braves. If the kid was a high-priced bonus baby with huge expectation I might understand some of the crap constantly flung his way here and on other Yankee sites, but since he’s not, I don’t understand why so many don’t view him as even passable in his non-specific bench role. Certainly, he’s head and shoulders better than anyone in the system. I for one view him as a highly undervalued strategic asset and hope they don’t let him go too cheaply — at least not before solid alternatives are in place to provide better depth in both the OF and IF going forward or unless a lead-pipe rock solid SP is involved (and that sure ain’t Jurrjens).

  2. I’m not sure that Brooks Conrad is a worthwhile target.

    UZR views his defense as awful at both 2B and 3B, checking in at -10.5 UZR/150 and -18.4 UZR/150 respectively for his career. His DRS and TZ numbers are decidedly mediocre, as well. Small sample size caveats certainly abound here – but he has a fairly awful reputation, as well.

    One possibility that I found intriguing, with rumors swirling around Jurrjens and Prado … why not make a move for both? The Braves are still looking for OF help – perhaps Swisher and Nunez could bring the two on-board?

    Jurrjens doesn’t give the Yankees the ace or even number two that they’re looking for, but he solidifies the middle of the rotation. Prado can play LF, RF, and 3B, giving the Yankees a nice bat behind Rodriguez for the inevitable days and half-days he has off.

    I’m not too keen on dealing Swisher, mind you, but there are some solid corner OF bats on the market to replace him. I would argue that subtracting Swisher and adding Prado, Jurrjens, and someone like DeJesus, Willingham, or Beltran would improve the team.

  3. I thought you guys have a section for off topic post, but I can’t seem to find it now. Anyways this is completely off topic, but I just wanted to vent how the Yankees are raising the bleacher seat prices by $5, which now makes them the same price as upper deck seats. Ridiculous. To hell with this organization, they lost themselves a reliable customer.

  4. I’ve seldom run into a stiuation where Yankee fans undervalued a player that another team wanted so much. Usually they regard our guy as the 2nd coming of Ron Guidry or Mickey Mantle when evaluating what the other team should give up. In this case the Braves value Nunez much higher than many Yankee fans. They are not the only team that see Nunez as a potential starter at shortstop. Nunez would be one of the key pieces in any deal. Talk of trading him straight up for a 31 year old utility guy borders on the absurd. Lets let this argument be settled by the trade (if & when it happens). If I’m wrong, you get a half hour to draw a crowd before I kiss your heinie.

    • Many posters are undervaluing Nunez value. When he replaced Jeter & Rodriguez in the lineup the team did not miss a beat. Nunez’ arm is comparable to both Jeter & Rodriguez. Notice how many times Teixera has to save them errors.

  5. I hope I didn’t portray Conrad as Brooks Robinson in my post, because he’s certainly not. But I’ll take an upgrade to “awful” defensively from the “other worldly pathetic” rank that Nunez was sitting at.

    Prado would be a very interesting target, and I would definitely supported pursuing him a/o Jurrjens as long as the Braves aren’t looking for top-tier prospects in return.

    Good bat, solid defensively at multiple positions. He could almost be considered the 1 stone that kills the backup IF/4th OF stones.

    • My concerns would be with his ability to play SS. Even if Jeter isn’t injured this year, he will need days off. While I’m no fan of Nunez (but he is rediculously fast should he get on base), is Conrad really an upgrade that the team needs?

      • If all the Braves are willing to give is Conrad and some nobody prospect they don’t value him that highly and we might as well just keep the guy.

        Let me ask this though. Would anyone trade Swisher and Nunez for Tim Hudson? Tim has 9 million left on his deal for 2012, and he has a 9 million dollar option for 2013. He isn’t a top of the rotation guy anymore but he would slot in really well as a number 3 guy who generates tons of ground balls. His salary and Swish’s salary is also exactly the same, and if he pitches well you can bring him back for one more year on the cheap. Tim has had his own injury past but over the last 2 years he has proven to be way more consistent than Jurrjens health wise, It might be worth putting in a call on him.

        • Is the 2013 option team or player? Assuming any of the big FA fish are still available after 2012, I would imagine the Yanks will want flexibility to be able to let Hudson go and replace him with a younger stud pitcher.

          But it’s definitely an interesting idea. Who are you putting in RF if that trade was made?

          • It is a club option with a 1 million dollar buy out. So you either pay him 10 million for one season, or you go with 18 million for 2 seasons.

            That’s the real question. Most people will immediately say Cespedes since that’s the hot name on the block, but I don’t know if you can just hand someone like that RF no questions asked.

            The only free agents I would even be willing to sign are DeJesus, Beltran, Cuddyer, Kubel, and Willingham. Of those guys DeJesus is probably the best on defense, Beltran is the highest risk highest reward, Willingham is a broke mans version of Swisher, Cuddyer is a fairly average ball player, and Kubel is god awful in the field.

            I guess I’d probably go with whichever one was willing to take a 1 year deal, though DeJesus probably makes the most sense because he has good D and could be platooned with Andruw Jones.

        • I’ve always liked Hudson … I think I’d jump at such an offer, though such a move would have to come with the assurance that the Yankees would also be picking up a viable replacement for Nick Swisher.

    • That wasn’t the case at all – you made it sound as if he’s a steady defensive presence at 2B and 3B. At least, that’s the sort of skill I imagine when someone uses the term ‘solid.’

      Even so, Conrad is a subpar defender … and I’m not sure he’d really be an upgrade over Nunez in that regard. I think this is almost a ‘devil that you know’ type situation.

  6. I’d hang up the phone if the Braves wanted to do Nunez-Conrad straight up. The Yankees would obviously be in the driver’s seat to ask for more in that scenario if the Braves are that in love with Eduardo.

    Not being as familiar with the Braves’ system as I am with the Yankees, I didn’t dig into it and look for prospects that would interest the Yankees. But I think we’d be safe in assuming that any trade discussions between the 2 teams won’t end up being a 1-for-1 swap.

  7. I hear you, Joe. Living out in Wisconsin, I have still yet to make it to the new Stadium but my friends that have all gone have complained about how much pricier everything is there than it used to be, especially the tickets.

    What makes this an even bigger kick in the balls for us regular guys who buy these tickets is that it comes at the end of a team press release where they state that 70+% of ticket prices will be unchanged or reduced in 2012. Jacking up the prices of the few tickets that are somewhat reasonable to keep the more expensive ones where they are? Yeesh.

  8. I’m here to say that Jurrjens in 2012 isn’t a better deal than Garcia in 2011…

    Garcia basically cost us nothing. His contract was completely incentive based and we asked very little of him. Anything he contributed to the team was value because the expectations were so low. We expected nothing at all, we got a lot of something, and at the end of the day it cost a total of around 5 million dollars. Jurrjens would cost not only Nunez but another bigger named player in the deal as well (we’ve all heard Swisher’s named tossed around), That alone means he can’t be a better “deal” than Garcia. Having that kind of return in a trade means we would be expecting at least 180 innings of number 3 starter value from Jair. That’s something that you can’t expect Jurrjens to ever be able to deliver. He has only pitched more than 189 innings once in his career, and quite frankly doesn’t strike me as the kind of pitcher to make a great transition to the AL.

    If Hughes is a bad stylistic fit for Yankee stadium Jurrjens is a nightmare. He had 1 good ground ball generating season, he’s never been a K threat, he’s never been reliable in terms of health, and his stuff has always been average to below average. He’s an absolute nightmare scenario for the Yankees and they should stay as far away from him as humanly possible. After CC our rotation is full of question marks, Jurrjens is as big or bigger a question mark than anyone in our rotation. You don’t improve upon unknowns by adding bigger unknowns to the mix.

    • I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, Chris.

      Freddy hadn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire in terms of IP when the Yanks signed him last year. And at the end of the season Jurrjens still threw more innings than Garcia in 2 fewer starts with basically equal K/9, fewer BB/9, lower FIP, better GB/FB rate, and better pitch values.

      I agree that Jurrjens comes with tremendous risk, but he also comes with potentially higher reward, and he’s still just 25. Freddy didn’t fit the mold to be successful at Yankee Stadium and he worked out OK. What’s to say a younger pitcher with a higher ceiling couldn’t do the same?

      And I might be in the minority here, but I believe the Yankees could get Jurrjens in a trade without giving up Swisher. He isn’t at the top of my wish list by any means, but I don’t think the Yankees should be running away from Jurrjens like he’s the black plague if they can get him for a good deal.

  9. The point though is “deal”. Jurrjens would have to do substantially better than Garcia to be worth the cost to acquire him. Garcia only cost an incentive laden deal, Jurrjens will cost a Nunez+ package at minimum.

    The difference in a 5.89 K/9 in the AL East and a 5.33 K/9 in the NL East isn’t equal to me. I also think a 2.61 BB/9 probably rises to above 2.76 BB/9 in the AL East, especially when Jurrjens career BB/9 is 3.10 and Freddy’s is 2.84. Not to mention Freddy has that veteran pitcher guile that comes from 13 years in the business that Jurrjens just hasn’t acquired

    If they are giving him away for free that’s one thing, but why would they do that? If they are really willing to part with Jair for just Nunez doesn’t that alone raise red flags to you? Wouldn’t that suggest to some degree they were getting out from underneath him before he sinks?

    I just think the deal would have to be so good that it would come with almost no risk on the Yankees part, and at that point something becomes fishy with why the Braves are parting with the 25 year old.

  10. For the record these are Hudson’s last 2 seasons with the Braves.

    2010- 228.2 IP, 5.47 K/9, 2.91 BB/9, 64.1 GB%, 2.83 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 3.77 xFIP
    2011- 215.0 IP, 6.61 K/9, 2.34 BB/9, 56.7 GB%, 3.22 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 3.49 xFIP

    He’s not fulfilling our major need in the rotation, but he is probably the cheapest, shortest term deal we could get in the way of an innings eater. He’s a better option than someone like Buehrle in my mind anyway.

  11. Surprised there was no mention of their two bullpen lefties O’Flaherty and Venters. Their workload was off the charts last year, but I’d still gladly give up Nunez for either of them and look at it as a long term deal. Meaning that I know there’s a good chance they’ll be bad or get hurt next year, but I’ll take the talent and team control. O’Flaherty is the most likely, he’s a 2nd year arb guy. Venters has barely one full season in the bigs, so he’s staying put.