Posted: 3:29 pm Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
By Jeff Schultz
When the Braves signed Gavin Floyd as a fifth starter in the winter, they thought they needed him. Now that Floyd is ready to come off the disabled list, they don’t need him.
Problem: “Never mind” doesn’t work in the world of sports, particularly in the world of sports contracts.
Mike Minor will make his first start back from the disabled list Friday, which is expected to lead the Braves to send rookie David Hale going to the bullpen or Gwinnett (AAA). Floyd, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, made what was expected to be his final minor-league start Tuesday night in Toledo (one run, four hits allowed in five innings).
The Braves have yet to announce their plans. What will they do? Below are some possibilities, and then I’ll tell you which way I’m leaning (not that the Braves have afforded me a vote).
There’s also a poll so feel free to weigh in.
1.) Trade Floyd: It seems like a strange scenario given he is coming off Tommy John surgery and hasn’t made a major league start in over a year. But Floyd must have some value or the Braves would not have given him a $4 million contract (worth up to $8.5 million with incentives) in December before he was even this far along in his rehab. The Baltimore Sun reported the Orioles had offered Floyd a potentially bigger contract (two years, up to $20 million with incentives). The down side to a potential trade is teams might not be in dealing mode yet so the Braves probably wouldn’t get market value for him.
2.) Trade another starter: Who? It’s not going to be Julio Teheran (who’s the future and just signed a long-term deal), or Ervin Santana (who’s too good), or Minor (good, cheap and not eligible for free agency until 2018), or Alex Wood (good and really, really cheap). It wouldn’t make any sense to deal Aaron Harang because the Braves wouldn’t get close to market value for a pitcher who currently leads the majors in ERA (0.85). So Floyd seems like the only trade option.
3.) Go to a 6-man rotation: I favored it two years ago when the Braves moved Kris Medlen from the bullpen, he morphed into a super hero and the team decided to go with six starters during the resulting log-jam in the short term. It made sense then because it was late-summer and it was a way to get starters some rest, while allowing the coaching staff to determine a pecking order down the stretch. But it doesn’t make now. Everybody is rolling. Rest isn’t a factor in late April and May. The extra day could just throw off everybody’s timing. I don’t see it.
4.) Put Floyd in bullpen: This may seem like an easy thing to do, but it’s not. Even if we’re not talking about one of the premier pitchers in baseball, Floyd has been almost exclusively a starter for 10 major league seasons. His only relief appearance in the last six years came in the 13th inning of a game in May of 2011. I can’t imagine he would be thrilled going there to wait his turn but it’s certainly a possibility.
5.) Put somebody else to the bullpen: Harang may eventually be a candidate for the long-reliever role but he’s not today. The Braves need to ride him as long as they can. Teheran, Santana and Minor are not going to be taken out of the rotation. Other than Floyd, that leaves only one candidate: Wood.
I know. How do the Braves drop a starter who allowed only six earned runs in his first five starts (35 innings)? Wood was blown out by Miami in his start Tuesday night (seven runs and 10 hits in five innings). But that’s not why I’m leaning in the direction of putting Wood in the bullpen. It’s strictly about circumstances. He’s a young pitcher who’s not going anywhere and will be available if/when another starter gets injured or falters.
My vote: Alex Wood to the bullpen.
The cyber-floor is yours.
About the Author
Sports blogger and columnist Jeff Schultz has been with the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution since 1989. He has been honored several times by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) and several other organizations.