With trade rumors centered around Justin Upton, realistically what would it take for the Braves to get him? Is there a package that makes sense that wouldn't hurt the Braves?
-- James I., Kennesaw, Ga.
As much as the Braves understand how beneficial it would be to add a second Upton to their outfield mix, general manager Frank Wren will not jeopardize the club's future with a Mark Teixeira-type package. In fact, it seems safe to assume he would not necessarily give up as much as the Mariners would have if Justin Upton had not rejected their trade offer with the D-backs last week.
Still if the Braves are going to get Upton, you can assume that either Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado would be involved. The question is: how many other young pitching prospects would Atlanta be willing to include to get a superstar-caliber player who would team with his brother B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward in Atlanta's outfield for the next three years?
Seattle was going to give up a veteran and three of its top six prospects, including Taijuan Walker, who ranks as MLB.com's fourth-best overall prospect. The package also included Charlie Furbush, a pitcher who will not be arbitration-eligible until 2015.
Piece for piece, the Braves could not match that package. But they do have a number of young pitching prospects who could intrigue the D-backs, who were obviously targeting pitchers while talking to the Mariners.
Atlanta does not know if it will have Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm beyond next season. The club's projected 2014 rotation includes Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor. The top candidates to fill the remaining spots would be Teheran, Delgado, Sean Gilmartin, Zeke Spruill and J.R. Graham. If college product Alex Wood makes a strong showing this year, he could add his name to the list of candidates.
Many great baseball men have said that you can never have enough pitching. It should be noted that I've never heard that phrase uttered by anyone who has been given a chance to put Heyward and the Upton brothers in the same outfield for the next three seasons.
But as intriguing as it would be to add another Upton to a deep lineup, it still seems a little too early to be excited about the possibility of the trade. Even with the understanding that Justin Upton has become increasingly disgruntled by the fact he is being shopped, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers will continue to look for a significant return. There are also some evaluators who believe he would like to avoid trading Upton to a National League team.
How will playing in the World Baseball Classic affect Kris Medlen and Craig Kimbrel? Will it affect their ability to pitch in September and possibly October?
-- Ladd R., Winter Garden, Fla.
Any time a player does something that takes them away from their normal preparations, there will be some cause for concern. But among those competing in the Classic, pitchers can seemingly maintain their normal Spring Training routine easier than hitters, who could struggle to find the volume of quality live pitching that they would have seen had they remained in camp with their organization.
As long as Medlen is placed in Team USA's rotation, he could make one or two Grapefruit League starts before leaving for the Classic. His schedule will be arranged with the understanding of when he would be scheduled to pitch during the first round. Pitching coach Greg Maddux will be well aware of when Medlen and each of his pitchers needs to throw on the side between starts.
Some of the fear regarding Kimbrel's participation comes from the belief that his adrenaline might lead him to begin popping fastballs with a ferocity that he might not have possessed if he was pitching an early March game for the Braves. It is a legitimate concern. Unfortunately, it might be easier to foul a pitch against Kimbrel than it would be to tell him he needs to control his adrenaline while wearing USA on his chest.
Now that the Nationals have signed Adam LaRoche, what are the odds the Braves will trade for Michael Morse?
-- Rob S., Richmond, Va.
I have been shocked to see how frequently I have received this question via the Inbox and Twitter. I think the best way to answer is to simply ask: What kind of ridiculous package would Atlanta have to provide to give Washington general manager Mike Rizzo reason to even think about the possibility of trading Morse to one of the two teams with the best chance to dethrone his club atop the NL East standings?
As the Braves head into 2013, what are their plans for a backup at first base for Freddie Freeman should he be injured or just need a day off?
-- Tim B., Martinsville, Va.
Ernesto Mejia is the only logical option on the 40-man roster. But given the fact that he will likely not be on the Opening Day roster, Mejia would probably only be an option if Freeman was forced to miss more than just a few days. If Freeman needs to rest for a few innings or one game, Blake DeWitt or another utility infielder could fill the void. Then there is Martin Prado, who would available as long as he is not already subbing at one of the other eight positions.