Will The Atlanta Braves Add Trevor Plouffe?

 The Atlanta Braves 40-man roster is full but that doesn’t mean they are done. More moves will be made and one of them may result in the Atlanta Braves adding Trevor Plouffe.

Most current Atlanta Braves news is focused on their quest for Chris Sale. However other wheels continue to turn as they  attempt to grab another top of the rotation arm boiled over on the hot stove.

Earlier in the week:

What next? As I watched the transactions Friday one name caught my eye; Trevor Plouffe.

Bye Bye Minnesota

Late this afternoon came word that the Twins had cut ties with the man who handled the hot corner for them virtually full-time from 2012 through 2015.

It wasn’t that Plouffe was suddenly bad, Miguel Sano is simply better and cheaper.   Add to that the reality that Plouffe was about to become expensive; MLBTR projected the 30-year-old would receive about $8.2M in arbitration this year. That’s not much in today’s game really but Sano is 23 years old, not arbitration eligible until 2019 and the Twins are on a tight budget.

"Could

Atlanta Braves Interested?

The 6’2” 215lb RHH Plouffe turns 31 in June and performed well for the Twins after moving to third from shortstop in 2012. While he’s not anyone’s superstar he’s been at or above league average since.

I usually restrict this to the last three seasons in order focus in recent results. This spread is only five seasons and one of those was a half season so I elected to show all of them.

Year G AB HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2012 119 422 24 55 37 92 .235 .301 .455 .756 106
2013 129 477 14 52 34 112 .254 .309 .392 .701 92
2014 136 520 14 80 53 109 .258 .328 .423 .751 110
2015 152 573 22 86 50 124 .244 .307 .435 .742 102
2016 84 319 12 47 19 60 .260 .303 .420 .723 95

Data from Baseball-Reference.com

A series of niggling injuries in 2013 including missing a week on the concussion list, a calf strain and a wrist injury affected his production but 2014 saw him rebound nicely.

Injuries again restricted Plouffe this year allowing him to play only 84 games, 62 of those at third.

  • He missed the last half of April with a strained right intercostal muscle
  • Fractured left rib on July seventh
  • Strained left oblique on September ninth

Those things make his line equal to about a half a season’s play. In that context he posted a .260/.303/.420/.723 line over 344 PA that included 12 homers, 13 doubles, 60 strikeouts and 20 walks.

Baseball-Reference shows a career interleague line of .279/.343/.513/.856 including 15 homers and 23 doubles in 343PA /308AB.

His first year at third defensively wasn’t pretty but he improved as he settled into the role. He’s a solid player and a potentially inexpensive upgrade at a position in short supply. The Braves will certainly be interested enough to do their due diligence and explore the possibility of signing him.

Aug 28, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe (24) hits a single during the ninth inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY

What Would it Cost?

The market has a few teams looking for a third baseman but the most obvious suitors outside of Atlanta would be the Mets and Giants. Over the last for years he compiled .253/.313/.418/.431 line with 62 homers. That makes him a league average bat with 15 homer power playing at a slight pitcher’s park. The league average contract for a third baseman is $11M.

That production and positional scarcity should earn him three to four years at $24-$32M.

That’s a Wrap

I think third base will be an issue for the Braves again this year. I know the Braves said they were happy to start the season with Adonis Garcia at third and I remember well his seemingly miraculous transition from concrete handed outfielder playing the infield to a more dependable defender. I’m just not sure that transformation was permanent and I don;t believe the Braves are either.

Garcia obviously enjoyed hitting second but that role is likely going to belong to Dansby Swanson this year. He’s also a year older and while he doesn’t strike out much he also doesn’t walk much (≤4%). I know the Braves said they were happy to start the season with him at third but adding a proven player like Plouffe must be tempting.

I’ve seen suggestion that we trade for Nick Castellanos or Todd Frazier. Both would cost prospects while Plouffe would only cost a little money.  Overall Plouffe has been better than Castellanos and while not as good as Frazier, the Todd father would probably be a one year rental.

When Rio Ruiz or Austin Riley or Travis Demeritte are ready, Plouffe can be traded; third basemen who can play a little first are always a good commodity.

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