Hart: Atlanta Braves Barely Exchanged Names


President of Baseball operations for the Atlanta Braves says speculation the Braves were hard in after Chris Sale is overstating things; the Braves barley exchanged names.

Contrary to reports – mostly by reporters who visit Atlanta under duress – the Atlanta Braves aren’t “aggressively swapping offers” nor are they in a group “trying hardest” to land Chris Sale unless that group isn’t trying very hard.

Atlanta Braves Doing Due Diligence – Not In Pursuit

There are several truisms of hot stove league news, the most important of those to remember is that sports reporters have deadlines and must file stories. Following on from that is the desire by many to first rather than absolutely accurate. They must also produce story-lines that generate web page visits that in turn generate revenue.

If you’ve ever played telephone you’ll and knowing those things it’s easy to understand how a few words  from a “source” become hot pursuit.

  • A source tells a sports writer that the Braves have been in touch with the White Sox a couple of times and Sale’s name came up.
  • The writer hears Braves, Sale, multiple times and thinks that means they are really interested there must be more he/she/they can’t tell me.
  • Said sports writer Tweets about this. Another writers see it ask their source who says yea the Braves called
  • The other writer thinks – wow I have two sources this must be real
  • Suddenly the Braves are named by multiple sources and trying hard to land Sale

I’ve said multiple times since this started that it makes no sense to undo all that’s been done to this point; empty the minors for one player when the team isn’t ready to contend.  Sometimes I get things right.

Chris Archer is rumored to be an Atlanta Braves target

Sep 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) looks on from the dugout during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hart “We’ve made a couple of calls, that’s all”

In an interview on MLB Network’s Hot Stove (embedded below), President of Baseball Operations, John Hart clarified what the Braves have done in relation to trading for Sale or Chris Archer or any one of their ilk. Contrary to those uber-hyped media reports it’s been much less intense.

“We are not close to anything. . . barely have exchanged names . . . At some point, we realize we’re going to have to trade some of these (young) guys. But . . . it’s not like this is our time, that we should . . . just start unloading the system with the idea that we’re going to get a two – or three-year fix.”

“. . .We’ve made a couple of calls, that’s all. .  A deal for an elite young starter like Chris Sales is apples to oranges. . . (it’s) going to involve a lot of good young players . . . (this is) a pricey deal for a club that is still, I think, taking some steps forward to become a contending club. . .I’m not sure if we’re quite there yet.”

What To Believe

Somewhere between barely exchanging names and what gets reported in the media lies the truth. If one reads beyond the headlines even the stories generated in order to achieve page views say this. In the Heyman post draws conclusions based on facts that aren’t necessarily relevant.

    • Heyman says the Braves are in a group trying hardest but never backs that up- How does he know that? He doesn’t.
    • He says the Braves “are exactly the sort of team that has the pieces” to make a deal. Even the most casual fan knows that, nothing new here.
    • Finally he concludes by listing fourteen (14)  Braves prospects that “could form the basis of a big deal.”  That isn’t news nor even a good rumor, anyone can look at a top ten list and draw that conclusion.

Nowhere does he suggest any names proffered as a start to negotiations he just says the teams match up.  ESPN’s information on the subject points to the Heyman article as a source and that source is inside Heyman’s head. Anyone could have come up with that but Heyman needs a source and gets paid for it.

The Braves have been in touch with the White Sox, Rays, and every other team. They have asked about the availability of players and what the other team thinking in terms of price. GMs do this all the time and more heavily in the off-season when rosters are in a constant state of flux.

Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella  during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Conclusions from Hart’s Interview

Once again there are things any objective observer can recognize. This is what I see in what he said and what they’ve actually done.

  • The Braves roster is not strong enough today such that adding a pitcher – even Sale – is top of the priority list
  • Trades will be made when the team is ready for a serious challenge; today is not that day
  • Keeping the flow of young players coming is still the goal
  • The front office team remains in contact with every other team. If they see the opportunity to make a deal that improves the team without blowing up the progress made they will.
  • The front office maintains a long-term outlook. Saying that a two to three-year fix isn’t what they believe works indicates they understand trades like the one for Sale should either be win nor or include long-term control as a price the team’s resources will allow.

That’s A Wrap – not turkey wrap with avocado – just a wrap

I’m not trying to pour water inside the hot stove; I am however a pragmatist. The Atlanta Braves rebuild is ahead of schedule but the full benefits of the pain and trades is still two years out.

On the whole the front office has made good decisions and put the team on the road to long-term success. When those trades I don’t like are made I’ll try to remember that.  I’ll still complain of course but I’ll try to see the silver lining.

It takes two teams to make a trade and there are always players with no trade rights and 28 other teams who might derail one. Sometimes the asking price –whether in prospects or money – is just too high to overcome.

I’m convinced however that when the time comes to add that one piece needed to push us over the finish line this front office will find a way to make it happen if it is at all possible.

I’m Thankful we have a place we can discuss such things as adults – mostly – and air our views without animosity.  Other sites are not that lucky.  I hope everyone has a have Thanksgiving and however you celebrate the upcoming holiday season I hope it is joyful for you and yours.

Now go ahead and tell me how badly I was wrong in this post, I’m thankful you take the time to read and I’m used to it.

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