Braves continue the rebuilding process

The process continued Friday with the trade of Chris Johnson to Cleveland. What might be next?

Friday’s trade by the Braves was the 22nd since the new front office took over last October. Okay, I must admit that this has all sort of been fun. Sure, there seems like there is a trade every week. But who liked last year’s team anyway?

No one did. The Braves were broken, and these moves are to try and fix things. Has it been extreme? Sure. But it was necessary. Getting Chris Johnson and his ridiculous contract off the roster Friday was necessary.

But the numbers are still somewhat shocking. Of the 25 men that were on the 2015 opening day roster, just four-plus months ago, only nine players remain. Ten have been traded, three are in the minor leagues, two are on the disabled list and one player was released.

Do you know how many Braves players who were on Saturday’s active roster were on the team opening day 2014? Only two – Julio Teheran and Andrelton Simmons.

There are eight rookies on this roster, and all but one is a pitcher. Yes, there are seven rookie pitchers – three in the rotation – on the Atlanta roster.

The farm system is better than it’s been in years, maybe even decades. The financial burdens left behind by former general manager Frank Wren have now evacuated. The Braves don’t have to worry about trying to lump an expensive player in a deal, like they did with Melvin Upton and like they had tried to do with Johnson before the salary swap with Cleveland.

Twenty-two trades. Now that figure includes the deals made for international money, but they included prospects and some players who had even played with Atlanta this season. But to put it in perspective of how active the new front office has been, the 22 trades made in 10 months is as many as John Schuerholz made in his first three years as GM when he took over in October, 1990.

The Braves are likely not done. It would be a shock if they are ‘finished,’ even before the end of the regular season. Why do I believe that? Well, a team that has been that aggressive will likely have enough conversations that could lead to deals. The Braves front office, led by John Hart and John Coppolella, has been creative and very active in trying to improve this organization.

Could they move Cameron Maybin? Sure, it could happen if Maybin passes through waivers. The Braves do have Michael Bourn now, so there is a player that could be in center next season. And now, they don’t have to rush prospect Mallex Smith, who is not going to be hurt by having more time in Triple-A.

If a team offers the right prospect(s), Maybin could be traded. But it’s unwise to limit the thinking of what the front office might do. This process, with all the trades, has tremendous momentum now that they no longer have to bundle a player with a bad contract in a deal. Now, they can just have regular trade talks without having to say, “Well, we’ll give you that player, but you have to take this player, too.”

Of course, like it or not, one thing to watch will be the overall record. The Braves really need to have one of the 10 worst records in baseball to lock down the first round draft pick next June. And obviously, the more they lose, the higher that pick will be. The Braves need another high impact draft choice, and if the major league team struggles the rest of the season they’ll be guaranteed of one next year.

They had to make the trade with the Indians. They got Johnson out of the clubhouse and they at least turned dead money into players that might still be able to be productive. It might have been as important as the trades that have brought solid prospects back to the team. The less dead money on the books, the better for any team and any general manager.

This has been a wild season but try to think about last year’s team. Were you even still watching the 2014 Braves in the second week of August? You might have already become disenchanted with a team that didn’t hustle and just wasn’t very good. At least this year’s team, even with a bad record, has players to watch and the future is very much improved.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

Atlanta Dugout Top Stories