Could a Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves Trade Happen This Season?

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Perez could immediately help the Braves behind the plate. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Why the Braves Would Say Yes

Chris Johnson hasn’t just struggled in 2015 for the Atlanta Braves. This slump he’s been in has lasted since the start of the 2014 season. Over the last year and a half, Johnson has hit just .261/.293/.356 with 11 homeruns and a mere 0.095 ISO. His sub-.650 OPS is hardly what the Braves were hoping they’d get after his monster 2013 season that saw him hit .321 with a 127 wRC+.

Johnson has lost his starting third base job to recently acquired Juan Uribe and has been platooning with Kelly Johnson at first base.  There have been several reports in recent weeks stating that the Braves would like to move Johnson.  Given that they at least engaged in talks for Nick Swisher suggests they aren’t expecting much of a return for him, but rather hoping to get rid of his contract and move. This deal helps them do that.

Cameron Maybin on the other hand has been quite the find for the Braves.  After struggling to stay healthy in his four years in San Diego, Maybin has played in 80 games thus far for the Braves. He’s also enjoying the best year of his career offensively.  The 28-year old appears to finally be showing that talent that made him the 10th overall pick of the Detroit Tigers back in the 2005 draft.  Or is this more of a mirage than a sign of him turning the corner?  He is enjoying a career-best .336 BABIP and he’s still not displaying much power (.129 ISO) despite getting out of cavernous Petco Park. Some reports have suggested that the Braves could sell high on Maybin as well, which would be quite the accomplishment given he was himself essentially a throw-in to match salaries just a few months ago.

Getting Michael Bourn does very little for the Braves; however, he does provide them with a veteran center fielder to replace Maybin. He’s also a former Brave himself having played there in 2011 and 2012, with 2012 being the best season of his career (both offensively and defensively).  Perhaps a move back to the National League will also help Bourn rebound some though at his age expectations would need to be tempered. Bourn would simply be a salary swap player and anything extra he provides would be a bonus.

Whether they get a prospect (or two) or a catcher like Perez, the Braves need young talent. While they have enjoyed a surprising start to their season they are in a clear rebuild having dealt guys like Justin Upton and Kimbrel.  Recent reports suggest that the Braves are looking for a young catcher.  They are currently starting veteran A.J. Pierzynski after optioning there prized catching prospect Christian Bethancourt to Triple-A.  Perez is a guy many view as merely a backup but he’s shown this year that he can provide offensive value thanks to the walks and pop in his bat. Combine that with his plus defense and it’s not unrealistic to foresee an everyday big league starter with All-Star potential, something 30 out of 30 teams would enjoy to have.

If Atlanta would prefer to go the prospect route the Indians do have several prospects that could entice the Braves.  They have several outfielders that could replace Maybin or starter in left field.  James Ramsey and Tyler Naquin are the first two that come to mind. Neither is a top five prospect but both have value, and it wouldn’t take much imagination to project them to be Maybin-esque in a year or two. 

Next: Why the Indians Would Say No