BRAVESCENTER TRADE ANALYSIS: Mercker/Belisle
It's a ho-hum trading season in Atlanta when the return of Kent Mercker can make news.
When the story broke at the trade deadline that the Braves were going to make a deal for Mercker, it made sense. The Braves badly need help in the pen and their lefties (Ray King, Jung Bong) had been worked maybe the hardest on the team.
The only question seemed to be what kind of compensation would be sent over for Mercker, and would it be too much for a 35 year old middle reliever?
Tuesday, the trade was finally made, Mercker for a PTBNL, which appears to be Greenville outfielder Cory Aldridge.
Aldridge is 24, but seems to have flatlined in AA Greenville under the weight of seemingly atrocious plate discipline that not even his moderately powerful bat can save.
Aldridge rose quickly through the minor ranks, thanks to flashing some of the "toolsy" things that led the Braves to use a 4th round pick on him in 1997. He even sipped some coffee in Atlanta in 2001, failing to get a hit in five trips to the plate, striking out in four of them.
But this season Cory has put up a hitting line of .233/.296/.393 despite hitting 13 home runs this season. That kind of OPS is bad news in the rising age of hitting discipline among MLB systems.
Mercker seems to be headed to the lefty specialist role that has seen King and Bong overworked this season, perhaps leading to the ERA of 7.94 and 12.60 in the last 30 days for each hurler.
Mercker's splits have been moderate this season, with a .227/.308/.440 against righties this season compared to a .222/.359/.365 against lefties. But over the last three seasons, the split has been more pronounced, .336/.414/.633 against righties and .226/.324/.432 against lefties.
The Braves receive some help in the pen, albeit an older, limited arm, and send out a player that is quickly losing the "pro" in the word prospect.
The Reds trade a guy they had little use for as they fade into unimportance, and get another "tools" outfielder to add to their annual talent drive.
Seems like the right deal for both teams, and the right price.
UPDATE: The Braves are not going to send Aldridge to CIN after all, but instead it will be Richmond pitcher Matt Belisle going to the Reds.
Whereas sending Aldridge to the Reds might have been a good deal for the Braves, including Belisle in the package may prove to be a worse deal.
Even though Belisle is not as high a prospect as he was two years ago, his potential is still high and it may not be worth trading him to get the couple of months out of Kent Mercker.
Compounding matters, Aldridge may not be a Brave anyway. When he clears waivers, Cory must accept an assignment back to Greenville. If he chooses to decline that assignment, he is immediately a free agent, and if the Reds or any other team was interested, they can get him for nothing.
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