Trade Recap: The Andrelton Simmons Trade

Ed. note: Click here to see Rob’s recaps of the other major trades from the Great Teardown.

This may have been most controversial deal during the rebuild, and was likely the most heartwrenching. Andrelton Simmons was a fan favorite, a GIF maker’s delight, and was the best defensive shortstop in baseball by a significant margin. He was under team control for the next 5 seasons, he was only 25, and with the team largely unsettled with position players, he was a stable commodity on the team. Nonetheless, the Braves traded him and Jose Briceno to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Chris Ellis, Sean Newcomb, Erick Aybar, and cash ($2.5M).

Who We Gave Up:

Andrelton Simmons – Simmons had won two Gold Gloves in his time in Atlanta (he inexplicably lost the 2015 award to Brandon Crawford, and the 2016 award to Francisco Lindor). His range knows no bounds, he’s extremely sure-handed, and his arm is electric and accurate. When he was drafted, a scout who thought he’d make an excellent pitcher enthused that he had “huge sh*t coming out of the pen,” but the Braves took him as a shortstop and the rest was history. He’s a human highlight reel, and you may enjoy the compilations here and here. Over the last 4 years, Andrelton leads baseball in Defensive Runs Saved with 131. The next guy has 61. He’s really good at playing shortstop.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Andrelton’s offense has never really developed. After late season duty in his rookie year that led people to think he could be a perennial All-Star (a .289/.335/.416 line in 186 PAs), he continued hope in his offense with a respectable first full season (.248/.296/.396). As was the case with many players on the 2013 Braves, the long ball was in play for Andrelton where he produced his to-date career high, 17 HRs. But he has not hit double-digit home runs again, and has not cracked an OPS over .700. In his first season with LAA, he did steal 10 bags, and his .690 OPS was the highest since his first full season. But with his salary increasing to $6M, $8M, $11M, $13M, and $15M, the Braves just couldn’t justify his future salary and needed to give the next team some years at a below market price to make the deal possible.

Jose Briceno – Briceno is a non-prospect catcher with no stick to speak of. Catchers tend to develop their offense late, but he has not shown an ability to hit upper minors pitching. He’s TBD, but he doesn’t look like he’ll be in the major leagues any time soon.

Who We Received:

Sean Newcomb – The centerpiece of the deal. Newcomb is a big lefty, standing 6’5” and weighing 255 lbs. He has a plus fastball, plus change up, an average change, and many have compared him to Jon Lester. Based on his size, mechanics, and stuff, the comp is valid. Newcomb has the strikeout numbers to be within striking distance of Atlanta, but walks have been his undoing. His BB/9 has never been below 4 since Rookie league, and in his second year at AA (he had 7 GS in 2015), he still has not mastered the strike zone (4.6 BB). He still strikes out over a batter an inning even as he gets into the upper levels, but if he does not fix his control issues, it will be very difficult for him to be a big league starter. He’s very important to the short- and long-term success of the Braves, and if he consistently avoids free passes, he can be an ace of a staff.

Chris Ellis – Another tall (6’5” as well), imposing starter. A less heralded prospect, Ellis possesses an average fastball but an above average change up. He’s also had his bouts in control, but like Newcomb, maintains a strong strike out rate. After a strong showing at AA (78.2 IP, 61 K, 1.131 WHIP, 2.75 ERA), Atlanta promoted him to AAA in hopes he’d continue his performance. Instead, he ran into more struggles than he’d had at any previous level, seeing his walk rate balloon (6.9 BB/9), his H/9 increase (9.0), and his ERA skyrocket to 6.52. Interestingly, his strike out rate improved to 8.6, so there is some reason for optimism in his progression. He’s had a few good outings in the AFL, so he’s still moving forward. He’s 24, however, and if he doesn’t make it to Atlanta before some of the higher-ceiling prospects are able to, then he could find himself stuck in AAA or traded.

Erick Aybar – The Braves thought they needed to take a shortstop back in the deal, so they received Aybar and $2.5M of his $8.5M salary. Aybar was 32, coming off a down year, but had performed well 3 of the previous 4 seasons before then. Aybar struggled to hit his weight out of the gate for Atlanta, but upon returning from a DL stint on 6/12, he pulled off a .289/.346/.396 line until he was pawned off on the Detroit Tigers. The Braves received Kade Scivicque, a 23-year-old catcher with some pop, and Mike Aviles and his $2M salary, who was later released. Scivicque has also been playing in the AFL, and could be an interesting piece down the road.

So What?

It’s hard to get excited about the return for Andrelton. Andrelton may not have ever been an offensive asset, but according to advanced stats, he saves you a lot more runs than he costs you. However, while in the cold light of day it may have made sense to trade Andrelton, the return seemed light. If Newcomb is able to harness his command, he can become an above average major league starter or even an ace. But he’ll be 24 next year, he hasn’t yet found his command, and if your aunt had balls, she’d be your uncle. It’s also possible that Ellis never makes a meaningful contribution to the parent club. Based on his salary, Aybar did not provide much value to Atlanta at all, even considering the return in his mid-season trade.

The best I can say: to be determined.

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187 thoughts on “Trade Recap: The Andrelton Simmons Trade”

  1. Keith Law thought the Braves bought very low on Garcia:

    The Cardinals wind up with a quantity-over-quality package that is better than nothing but doesn’t have much upside. John Gant is a deception guy with average stuff who has missed some bats in the minors and might have value in the bullpen where hitters get just one look at him, although in 2016 he was awful in both roles in the majors. He has thrown 50 major league innings, so he has lost his rookie eligibility and technically isn’t eligible for my prospect lists any more.

    Chris Ellis had some potential coming out of Ole Miss with two average pitches and a workhorse build, but he was mediocre in Double-A last season and flat-out awful in 15 Triple-A starts, walking 52 guys in 67 innings. He doesn’t have monster stuff, so while he looks like a starter, he might be a pen guy or just a minor league arm unless he can stop walking guys the way he has since pitching in High-A.

    Luke Dykstra is an organizational player, a second baseman with no power (really — he hasn’t homered since 2014) or speed and a career walk rate in the pros of 3 percent.

  2. This is a great deal for the Nats or Dodgers to make. It’s a bit quizzical for a team that’s picking 3rd in the draft.

  3. I think Coppy is determined to put a winning team on the field next season. They are not going to wait for Wisler and Blair to develop. Besides having two 40+ years old in the rotation the more depth you can get the better.

  4. Non-tender deadline today and the Braves currently have a full 40-man roster. Whether it be trades, tenders (not of the chicken variety), or DFAs, there will be moves today.

  5. I like this deal for the Braves. Garcia is kind of the opposite of Dickey – Garcia is often runs low ERAs but has trouble pitching a full season; while Dickey basically never misses a start but gives up plenty of runs if his knuckler isn’t working. At the very least, this deal helps solidify the front five of the rotation (Teheran, Garcia, Colon, Folty, Dickey) so the 2017 Braves open the season with some Proven Vets to show their fanbase.

    I’m not sure what the AAA rotation *was* going to look like before this trade, but I’m guessing Ellis would have been on it. The trade frees up another spot in the Gwinnett starting rotation, which may well include a number of guys who will be starting with Atlanta (or traded) by the end of 2017 (Wisler, Jenkins, Newcomb, Sims).

    In an ideal world, Wisler and Newcomb et al. develop cromulently in the minors in 2017; Coppy trades Garcia or Colon (or both) midseason for some sweet prospects and the rebuild rolls on.

  6. If they aren’t in contention (I’m not counting anyone out with the second WC), I would imagine at least one of the trio would bring a decent haul.

    They aren’t ready to go for it, but they’ve improved using the available funds without locking in much past a year or two. Seems like a realistic approach.

  7. There’s much more off-season to be played, but I don’t think these deals have really moved the Braves up from a 68-win team in 2017.

    The starting rotation certainly will improve, perhaps dramatically. But I think what was lost in the weird hope-crucible of August and September is that:

    1.) Our bullpen isn’t very good at all, starting with Vizcaino. I don’t know how we pretend otherwise.

    And more importantly

    2.) We are counting on an awful lot of unlikely performances from the line-up. Freeman might be transcendent again next season, but it’s at least as likely that his hitting returns to something like his career average. I am equally skeptical of Swanson’s and Kemp’s ability to carry over their performance in an Atlanta uniform to 2017 (although my long-term expectations for Dansby are high-ish). I doubt Markakis and Inciarte will drag the line-up down, but they won’t help it any more than they did last year. 2nd base (barring a surprise injury recovery by Albies) and Catcher are looking very bad, and the 3rd base platoon could equal them.

    The pitching acquisitions are not bad moves at all, though again I think it’s unlikely the Braves are any better than last year’s record yet. What I think we have accomplished by shoring up the rotation is some good assurance that we won’t make a run at 100 losses again–which *is* an improvement on last year’s team–and given ourselves trade deadline ammunition at very low levels of risk.

  8. After the windfall, this seems to be the way the organization looks with SPs with big league potential:








    Not as many names on the paper, but still just as strong as it was a few days ago. And if they are able to trade a couple of these rentals at the deadline, we could have an even better farm after Albies and Swanson graduate.

  9. I think our bullpen is actually decent. Johnson, Vizcaino and Simmons are good. Krol, Cabrera and Jenkins showed flashes.

  10. 2016 Non-Teheran/Folty Starters (Wisler, Blair, Jenkins, Whalen, Boom Boom Bobby, Norris, Harrell, etc.): -3.5 WAR

    2017 Non-Teheran/Folty Starters: 5.1 WAR, and that’s with down years from Dickey and Garcia. Split their last two years: 6.8 WAR

    That’s a 10.3 WAR swing. And these starters will, on average, go deeper into games, which will take strain off the bullpen. Then whatever happens with Teheran and Folty. The team is improved significantly.

  11. Lots of chatter about us still being after Sale this am. I assume the cost would be Folty or Teheran + 3 top 10 prospects. I wouldn’t do that at this point.

  12. I’m not worried about the pen at all. The going rate for Brett Cecil being what it is, I’m more than happy to roll the dice on a Johnson/Vizcaino/Simmons/Krol/Cabrera unit. Signing Chapman or Jansen isn’t (or shouldn’t be) on the menu, and the lesser guys aren’t really worth the coin.

    As for the rotation, the Dickey/Colon/Garcia acquisitions don’t really raise the ceiling so much as raise the floor. I don’t really see the Braves’ rotation as championship caliber unless Teheran and Foltynewicz make huge leaps forward, but it is unlikely to be an utter disaster either, and an utter disaster in the rotation (such as the 2016 Braves, just to pick an example at random) is almost always a big contributor to 90-100 loss teams.

  13. Johnson/Vizcaino/Simmons/Krol/Cabrera

    Plus we might see Jenkins moved to the pen. AJ Minter could be an interesting piece. Collmenter could be the next Lisp in the swing role and will be more effective than Gant, Cruz, and Weber. Maybe Withrow and Paco are healthy. Maybe. Ramirez and Roe, who both pitched well, are still on the 40-man. If Winkler somehow makes it through the 40-man crunch, you could only hope that proves the Braves think he’s healthy. And the pen will pitch less innings. There’s tons of reasons to trust the pen.

  14. @11, Vizcaino walked 6 batters per inning last year, Simmons has pitched 6 innings since coming back from Tommy John surgery and…what exactly did Jenkins show flashes of? In his 12 bullpen innings, he allowed 15 hits and 7 walks. Granted, those are better than his numbers as a starter.

  15. @8 Garcia is, in fact, quite a good pitcher on a per-inning basis.

    ERA / FIP / XFIP (Career)
    Teheran: 3.39 / 3.85 / 3.97
    Garcia: 3.57 / 3.56 / 3.48
    Dickey: 4.01 / 4.38 / 4.26
    Colon: 3.93 / 4.04 / 4.09

    If the Braves could get 350 – 400 IP of 3.3 – 3.5 ERA from Teheran/Garcia and 350 – 400 IP of 4 ERA from Dickey/Colon that would be a fine base to the rotation. It won’t win you the pennant, but for a transitional year rotation built upon arms acquired without substantial contractual burden ($$ or years) or prospect cost it’s not bad at all. Re: Garcia, hopefully Snitker can get a handle on which days are the ones that Garcia can go 8 IP versus those days he doesn’t have it and needs to be pulled after 3 IP in favor of Collmenter.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Wisler, Blair and Jenkins can put things together in AAA next year. Jenkins was the only one of the three who had a good ERA in Gwinnett in 2016 and he managed it with a crappy K/BB ratio. I like the chances for at least one of Wisler/Blair to make a strong push to return to the Atlanta starting rotation – I’m not as sold on Jenkins as a starter.

  16. Vizcaino’s struggles could easily be attributed to health, which is a real concern. Between Withrow, Vizvaino, Simmons, and Rodriguez, there is a boom-or-bust with our bullpen. That’s why it’s not surprising they re-inked Johnson. On the whole, though, you should see a pretty good bullpen, though it won’t be top-5 in baseball.

  17. @18, Dickey’s had a pretty unusual career path, and I don’t think it’s accurate to use his career numbers. Since Garcia’s rookie season, Dickey has had the slightly better ERA+ (110 to 109), which, as you know, is a per-inning stat. Take it back two more years to 2008, which is when Dickey got himself back into the league regularly (though the Twins used him in relief), and Garcia has the slight advantage (109 to 107). He has not been a significantly better pitcher on a per-inning basis than the current incarnation of R.A. Dickey. Nor, for that matter, Bartolo Colon.

    All of them are a great improvement on last year’s wild bunch, but I think you’re kidding yourself if you’re looking for Garcia (or any of them) to pitch as well as Teheran on a per-inning basis.

  18. Edward – perhaps we are arguing past each other. Garcia is a quality pitcher (with durability issues); I don’t think that’s really debatable. If my math is correct, over the past two years he’s averaged about 150 IP and a 3.7 ERA. I think he’ll be good for that, if not a bit better on the ERA.

    I can also agree that R.A. Dickey has a history of good ERAs in New York prior to moving to Rogers Centre; moving to Atlanta should help a good bit but given how old Dickey is now (and the massive AL-NL and pitching environment shift) it’s hard to confidently project what we’ll get versus the Mets-era Dickey. That said, projection systems see Dickey as a 4+ ERA for 2017. I think he’ll be better than that (and he could be excellent) but the range of potential outcomes is large.

    I am not looking for Garcia to pitch better than Teheran – and I never said that I was. However, Garcia looks like the Braves’ SP2 and has the kind of upside that’s hard to come by in a cheaply-acquired starter.

  19. I think the 2 or 3 win swing of adding Garcia instead of splitting time between Wisler and Blair has simply changed the likely scenario from “3rd place, selling at the deadline, turning one-year vets into more prospects, enhancing the rebuild” into “3rd place, holding out for 2nd wildcard, missing it, and watching all these vets walk for nothing.”

    Seems,like a small difference. But we start being “good,” in 2018 either way (which is to say, competing with sustainable pieces.) Without Gant and Whalen type returns for Colon and Dickey, who will we trade for the 2019 version of Garcia, when that kind of player will actually make a real difference?

  20. I think we could see some of the older pitching dealt at the deadline even if the team is contending — if someone in the AAA rotation shows readiness for a promotion. Don’t think we are done dealing yet, though.

  21. @30 – I hope you’re right. Adding Garcia to our pile of expendable SP assets in July, rather than removing Dickey and Colon, is a huge flip.

    I just fear a scene where we’re 4 games our of the 2nd WC and we stand pat, or acquire another Emilio Bonifacio, and fall flat, and close out the rebuild with a wasted season

  22. @31 I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen. If they want to be respectable in the first year of the park, sure, go for it. But this team is not built to be a solid contender, and any delusions of grandeur that would lead to not dealing these three SPs are silly. There is so clearly a gap between what junk gets you in the offseason vs. what you get in season. Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez produced Travis Demeritte mid-season whereas much more value (Povse and Whalen) produced less value (Jackson) in the offseason. If they could be looking at getting top-15 prospects for each SP vs. trying to sneak into the WC, then it’s obvious.

  23. @31 *If* Garcia is pitching well this season, the Braves should be able to trade him for one or more ceiling prospects (considerably better than the level of the guys we gave up to acquire Garcia in the first place). The question is whether Braves’ management would feel secure enough in the marketing/spin of that move to blunt any fan anger at trading away a legit asset if the team is in contention at the time.

    Fingers crossed the Braves can thread the needle on the process of continuing to develop the farm system (particularly position players) without taking any steps backward in terms of on-field product. A lot of that will come down to development of our pitching prospects.

  24. *high-ceiling prospects, not “ceiling prospects”. I’m not sure what a ceiling prospect would be.

  25. My gut feeling is the team will be happy to be in contention, or happy to have quality to trade for even more depth. It seems like they’re setting themselves up for one or the other.

    If this team is in contention in August, that’s a good problem to have, in other words…

  26. I like what the Braves have going. The nice thing about a buy-low player like Garcia is that he could be an affordable serviceable arm if he has a good year and we don’t trade him. He’s nothing special, but he could be in demand at the deadline. The best part about him is we’re not likely to lose on this trade. It’s safe.

  27. Interesting around the new CBA:

    There will be no amnesty for teams with existing international-spending penalties. Following their spree this year, the Padres will not be allowed to spend more than $300,000 on an individual international player for the next two seasons. They can, however, still trade as much of their international money as they’d like to potentially recoup value there.

    So I guess we’ll have the full cap, but won’t be able to realistically sign the top talent.

  28. @41 Why do you think we’ll add another starter? At present we have Teheran, Garcia, Colon, Dickey, and Folty, with Collmenter, Wisler and Blair (presumably) next on the depth chart. With Garcia on board I don’t see any more room in the rotation unless one of the starters is traded.

  29. To sign Jeff Mathis, of all people.

    I don’t know how Castillo’s defense/framing/game-calling is, but his bat would fit in nicely on the Braves.

  30. Castillo’s 2.4 WAR in 2016 would have been 3rd among Braves position players. But, yeah let’s get another pitcher.

  31. You’re right of course; I should say that I don’t want Albies involved. There are so many holes in the lineup, and 2B is the only one we even seem to have a plan for.

  32. kinda wish we would saved that 12 mil and got some of these non tendered guys … we could have gotten a catcher and a starter or a another infielder .. who do you think our 13 position guys will be ?? I got Infante, Kemp and Markakis in OF , Garcia , Swanson, Rodriguez and Freeman in INF , Flowers at C .. thats 8 .. then Peterson, M. Smith , Recker .. leaves 2 more spots … does one go to D’Arnaud who can play SS and other positions ?? Leaves 1 more spot OF ??

  33. Probably d’Arnaud gets the IF back-up spot – I think he burgled Lockhart’s house to find The Pictures. Last spot? I imagine some veteran bench bat. Someone like KJ or Frenchy, if not necessarily then, who can be dumped at the deadline for a lotto ticket if we’re not in contention.

  34. Don’t get overly fond of a player with Coppy minding the store. I’ve been looking forward to Albies and Swanson to anchor the middle. With the Coppster, you really can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

  35. Anyone have inside info about our interest in Wellington Castillo? Word is that he’s a bad pitch framer, but with our current duo, it makes no sense to me why we aren’t all over him. It sounds like the Rays are the frontrunner.

  36. Paco Rodriguez is apparently gonna stick around. He avoided arbitration by accepting a $637k contract. I’m glad, as I still harbor delusions the Braves can win that Hector Olivera deal.

  37. Paco would have to become Aroldis Chapman to win the Olivera trade. I’d like him to become a good reliever for us, but what’s done is done with Olivera.

  38. I don’t know, the last time we had brothers playing together it didn’t go so well. Actually, I don’t think we’ll be paying both of them combined over 30 million per year any time soon.

  39. Apparently Jose Adolis is basically at a AA-AAA level. I’d throw a pretty solid deal at him considering the Braves’ OF prospects.

  40. Stupid HTML table

    RkPosNameOPS+ NameOPS+
    1CEvan Gattis126 Tyler Flowers109
    21BFreddie Freeman*139 Freddie Freeman157
    32BTommy La Stella*84 Sean Rodriguez126
    4SSAndrelton Simmons75 Dansby Swanson115
    53BChris Johnson84 Adonis Garcia91
    6LFJustin Upton133 Matt Kemp126
    7CFMelvin Upton75 Ender Inciarte98
    8RFJason Heyward*109 Nick Markakis100
    9CGerald Laird52 Anthony Recker123
    10UTRyan Doumit#55 Chase d’Arnaud76
    11MIRamiro Pena#84 Jace Peterson94
    122BDan Uggla35 Gordon Beckham76
    14CFEmilio Bonifacio#57 Mallex Smith83
    RkPosNameERA+ NameERA+
    1SPJulio Teheran123 Julio Teheran129
    2SPAaron Harang100 Bartolo Colon119
    3SPErvin Santana90 R.A. Dickey97
    4SPAlex Wood*128 Mike Foltynewicz96
    5SPMike Minor*75 Jaime Garcia88
    11 David Hale108 Josh Collemeter178
    12 Gavin Floyd135 Aaron Blair55
    6CLCraig Kimbrel223 Jim Johnson136
    7RPDavid Carpenter101 Ian Krol131
    8RPAnthony Varvaro136 Arodys Vizcaino94
    9RPJordan Walden124 Chris Withrow116
    10RPLuis Avilan*79 Hunter Cervenka131

  41. Cervenka and Withrow aren’t on the team anymore, and the current team is a good deal worse defensively than that one, but I take your point. It’s a lot easier to go from 70 wins to 80-85 than it is to go from 80 to 90-95. They can only go up.

    Apparently the Sale talks are pretty serious. Swanson is apparently off the table, but precious few others are, it seems.

  42. To be clear, I don’t think the 2017 team will be a contender outside of lucky breaks. My point is that the 2014 team, which many argued should just have been tweaked around the edges to make a WC run, wasn’t any better than what we will likely have next year. And of course, the farm….

  43. I don’t think the 2017 team will be a contender either, but it’s possible it will be. Despite the latter possibility, I’m totally fine with sticking with the plan.

  44. So we’d have to give up a package like: 4 years of Inciarte, 5 years of Folty, 6 years of Albies and 6 years of Max Fried to get Chris Sale for 2017, 2018 and 2019.

    In 2017 he makes us flawed but legit wildcard contenders, and after some of Colon, Dickey and Garcia peel off, and if Newcomb, Blair and Wisler figure it out, solid division contenders in 2018 and 2019.

    But if Newcomb, Blair and Wisler figure it out, (or some of Colon, Dickey or Garcia re-up) ‘solid divisional contenders’ we can be in 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 with Folty through 21 and Albies and Fried through 23 or 24.

    But then, say Chris Sale pitches a fine, healthy 2017, then goes down with Tommy John halfway through 2018, and misses all of 2019, then hits free agency. Have you watched him pitch? He’s not going to be a guy who gets to his mid 30’s all hunky dory. I know he’s still young, but that missed 1.5 seasons is coming, either on his present contract, or the one he signs in 2019. Someone needs to factor in him missing 1.5 seasons.

    Even if you don’t buy ‘his mechanics look bad,’ that’s still a hell of a lot of talent for a hell of a long time to risk on a single elbow. The entire advantage of our strategy is that we spread the risk among so many talented elbows. And for god’s sake, we can’t be giving away hitting.

    Think instead about how long we can stoke the fire if in 2019, 2020 and 2021 we’re trading away established Foltys, Blairs, Wislers, and Inciartes, to make room for Kolby Allards, Mike Sorokas, Ian Andersons and Ronald Acunas, and restocking our minors with high-ceiling talent. If we trade those kinds of players for Sale, we’ll instead be signing the 2019 version of Paul Maholm and David DeJesus to get us by JUST ONE MORE YEAR until those kids are ready.

    I think trading for Chris Sale will be a franchise altering mistake. I think in 2020 Alex would be writing up the post-mortem on Coppy’s Braves Career, and pinpointing that deal as the turning point.

  45. @ 78 I agree. If Folty continues to develop as he did in 2016, he could possibly produce as much value as Sale by himself over the next three years. Hart and Coppy should stay the course.

  46. If we could have Sale for Folty, Albies and Fried, we would have done it already.

    I like Folty, but Sale is a top 5 pitcher. Folty would have to do some serious development.

  47. @78/80 – I’m all in for Sale for Folty, Albies, and Fried. Any more players (especially Inciarte ), and the deal goes South in a hurry. I still kind of think we’ll end up with Archer or Gray. I think talks for Sale drop off and we have one of the other 2 waiting in the wings pretty quickly.

  48. I’m betting we won’t trade for any of the frontline starters out there, unless someone wants to give us Justin Verlander for Rio Ruiz and Matt Wisler. I like where we are at the moment, and would like to see Albies and Swanson turn some DPs this summer.

  49. All of Coppy’s recent SP additions have bumped our 2017 rotation from ‘gross’ to ‘good enough’ – at this stage, I’d say our starting rotation projects to be about average (to go with a slightly below-average group of hitters and below-average defense). Most of the easy room for big upgrades going forward are at C, 2B, 3B, LF, RF. With any luck, Albies will be the answer at 2B by mid-season, but that still leaves a number of weak spots. I’d rather the Braves make plans to improve those spots instead of trading away Folty + lots of other talent for yet another rotation upgrade.

    Obviously, if some team wants to hand us a great starter without the Braves having to give up a serious return (eg Verlander for Ruiz and Wisler) then great, but that’s an unlikely scenario.

  50. @85 Forgive me, I forgot about S-Rod. Agreed, he’s a good piece for the Braves and should help make 2B and 3B more productive positions this season than they were in 2016.

  51. It’s at this point in the offseason that Kemp has shed about 10-12 pounds? Thanksgiving probably put a few back on…Christmas is coming. But there’s two months more to go. He’s got this.

  52. The question that the organization has to consider is if moving Albies for an arm makes the team more competitive now (almost certainly) and if that move makes the long term prospects worse. Given Rodriguez for the next 2-3 years in ATL, and Peterson as a functional backup, and Maitan in the weeds and projected to have a fast track through the minors, it’s a reasonable ask. Inciarte is much harder to back fill for this organization right now.

  53. @77 — Well, no. The worst case scenario is that they empty out the farm for a team that’s not yet ready, and you’re looking at a reverse Shelby Miller situation (or Teixeira 2.0), while the Nationals go spend their capital on Andrew McCutchen or Chris Archer or somebody.

    Pitchers of Sale’s quality don’t become available every offseason, so I do think the Braves owe it to themselves to check every possibility for a potential fit, but I’d be lying my ass off if I said the worst case scenario didn’t worry me.

  54. His elbow will keep him out until 2018. Apparently we have to keep him on the 40-man? What’s with us nailing down lefty reliever table scraps from the Yanks?

  55. Jacob Lindgren and Paco Rodriguez both share the traits of being 2nd round collegiate left-handed relievers on the shelf for a year due to Tommy John.

  56. Count me as done as a Braves fan of we give up Albies, Newcomb, Allard, Anderson and Maitan for Sale .. now way I give up that much talent.. I will puke if they do that .. 1 player .. that’s crazy

  57. @70, Well I won’t argue about the farm.

    But I am still of the opinion that the 2014 team needed a few tweaks around the edges to win the division in 2015.

    And–as the roster now stands–I don’t think the 2017 Braves come particularly close to the 79 wins that the 2014 Braves put up. I guess we’ll see what changes between now and the end of March.

    Finally, re: Sean Rodriguez. He’s a nice utility piece, but he’s not a regular anything. And do you really think he’s anywhere near as good as his line from last year? He was really, really good, but it was also the first time in 9 seasons that he was a better than league-average hitter. I don’t think we can count on him.

    We have good players in the majors, good players in the minors, and what has been a pretty sound development process–even if I think it began a year early. I’m optimistic! But not about 2017. Too many question marks.

  58. Bud Selig presided over the cancellation of a season and the proliferation of steroids. I can accept this if they keep his plaque in a toilet stall.

  59. Goodell has his stuff too (concussions, work stoppage, discipline issues, “totalitarian” stigma) but like Selig, they both have seen their respective sports reach incredible growth. While the NFL has the inherent advantage of fast pace, blood, carnage, and death, baseball doesn’t have the excitement from just the game itself. Selig did an ok job. I do like Manfred a lot.

  60. Incredible growth and a new stadium for nearly everyone.
    (I’ll stop short of the accompanying political discussion.)

  61. @79

    Um…no. I mean, in a future with near infinite possibilities, that is one of them, I suppose…but Chris Sale is a bona fide ace and one of the five best pitchers in all of baseball. If you’re thinking there’s a good chance Folty will equal Sale at the height of his career (much less in the next three years), you’re seriously undervaluing Sale and/or overvaluing Folty.

    If the Braves thought Folty would become as good as Sale, they wouldn’t make the trade, or at least wouldn’t include him in it. But there’s really no evidence of that. He’ll be a very good pitcher if he figures it out, sure….but attaining Sale’s level is unlikely.

  62. I think them not making this trade signals how highly they think of the players that otherwise would be going. Since Folty would be a logical choice for the fans to assume would be going, that would fit that narrative.

    With that said, I think Folty still has a ton of potential, and has all of the ability to become an ace, and if you believe the last two years, he’s trending that way. In 2016, he increased his K rate, lowered his walk rate, significantly lowered his HR rate, lowered his BABIP an unalarming but important amount, stranded more runners, increased his ground balls, and lowered his FIP by about .8. The guy got better, and he may even continue to get better. Plus, the dude is straight crazy, and that’s a good thing. I really don’t want to trade him.

  63. @ 107. Let’s assume Folty figures it out and does become a very good pitcher, but doesn’ t reach Sale’s status. Does it make sense to trade him and several other top prospects for a few years of Sales’s marginal value, while diminishing the team’s development due to the loss of the abovementioned players? I don’t think so. That was my point.

  64. Fair enough. Selig has an office in the history department at UW (where I work). While I’d be interested in a attending a lecture or two — because baseball — and I’m very pleased to hear that he’s endowed a couple of chairs and scholarships, I’m not exactly lining up to meet the Bud.

  65. We would still be a below .500 club even if we added Sale to the roster and gave up nothing. (But I’d be in favor of that type of deal, should it present itself).

  66. Perfectly reasonable for them to ask for the moon. But I have to think that part of this is driven by a realization that they probably should have sold him at the deadline and they missed their best chance to get a true king’s ransom. A little like the Twins trading Santana to the Mets after their overly Hugh asking price drove the Red Sox and Cubs out of the market.

  67. “Padres are still in search of a SS. Have had preliminary talks with Erick Aybar’s agent. They’re also actively pursuing trade options.”

    Woof. How hard does it suck to be a Padres fan?

  68. ‘How hard does it suck to be a Padres fan?”

    It’s a lot like being a Braves fans about this time last year.

  69. According to MLBTR, the Rangers asked about Ender Inciarte and the talks “went nowhere”.

    I’m also seeing that the Nationals are in pretty heavy talks for Sale. While I would hate to see our rival get one of the best pitchers in baseball, I would have to think the other shoe is going to drop for them at some point. Harper is about to become really expensive, they have a ton of money tied up in old, injured players, and they will probably gut the farm to get Sale. I would imagine Giolito would go, and they would probably have to part with another one of their four top 100 prospects.

    We just lost 93 games, but they’ve got through their good run, they have no World Series title, and I like our outlook going forward.

  70. @119 The Nats have Scherzer, Strasburg, (Joe) Ross, Harper, Turner, Murphy and Rendon all under team control through at least 2018, plus a highly-rated farm system. I’d say they are in great position to maintain control of the NL East for the next 2 seasons. Yes – they’ll have to pay Harper more and more, but they’ll also be getting Werth and Zimmerman off the books eventually as well.

    The real problem (for the Braves) is the Nats pulled off a trade that was arguably superior to the Shelby Miller/Dansby Swanson deal when they gave up Steven Souza and Travis Ott in a three-team deal and got back Joe Ross and Trea Turner. Without that deal (and the great Daniel Murphy signing) the Nats look a lot more vulnerable right now.

    If I’m the Nats, I would be happy to trade Lucas Giolito to get back Sale – to my mind, Giolito looks like Sean Newcomb; he’s clearly got top-end stuff but he’s shown average control (at best) in the upper minors and has only had measured success there.

    The really interesting thing for the Nats is that they’re getting into some serious deferred-money deals with Boras clients: they’ll pay Scherzer $15M each year 2022 – 2028 and Strasburg $10M each year 2024 – 2030 (unless he opts out after 2019 or 2020 seasons in which case the deferred money accelerates). I have to think the Nats will look at offering the same kind of thing to Harper.

  71. Right. The next two years, there’s no debate that they’ll be the team to be in the NL East. But going forward, I seem to think they’re going to have some trouble. If Murphy, at the age of 32, doesn’t hit 200 points above his career OPS, Harper leaves in FA, Zimmerman/Werth keep going the way they’re going, and they give up 3-4 top pieces for Sale, then I could see the Braves 2019-2022 looking a lot better than theirs.

  72. Also interesting to read Coppy’s comments on bowing out of a potential Sale deal, framing it in the context of “we don’t want to blow up our rebuilding efforts.”

  73. Coppy and Hart with some strong words and a wake up call for some of these guys. I like it.

    “As far as the way our pitchers feel, this may not be (politically correct), but if you don’t like it, get better,” he said. “There’s been a lot of opportunities handed out here. There’s been a lot of pitchers pitching where, frankly, I’m – I don’t want to way embarrassed for the Braves franchise, but where a gold-standard franchise like the Braves should be a lot better….

    “If you feel like you’ve been slighted, or you have gotten a chance, or you’re mad that we brought somebody better, pitch better. Get better. We don’t owe anybody anything. The best pitchers are going to pitch for us, and if you don’t like it, get better.”

    Hart added that if they look over their shoulders, those pitchers will also see a “herd” of elite Braves pitching prospects coming up behind them in another two or three years, if not sooner.

  74. Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz per MLBtraderumors.

    Basabe is a nice piece. Don’t know anything about Diaz.

  75. Victor Diaz, 22 year old Dominican reliever, spent last year in the Carolina League. Probably not going to keep the Red Sox up at night parting with him.

  76. There was no way the Braves were going to deal Dansby or Albies. I may be alone in speculating the Braves have Albies on the untouchables list, but it’s speculation that I’ve built from reading and watching what they’ve done over the past couple of years (ie. grooming Albies to work with Swanson on the infield).

    I believe Freeman and Teheran are also untouchable.

  77. The makes Boston the AL favorites for sure. A lot of added pressure on that group with such a win-now move.

  78. Not sure I believe this.

  79. 138—Bowman is overrating the Braves prospects. It would have taken more than that (!) to beat what the Red Sox sent to Chicago.

  80. Now that Ellis, Gant, Povse, and Whalen are gone, there are pretty much three players that were “disappointments” last year: Jenkins, Wisler, and Blair. And I’m not even sure Jenkins fully qualifies considering he was part starter/part reliever, he’s the same age as the other guys, pitched less innings, and wasn’t as bad as Blair. But anyway, is it really that much of a difference for Coppy to publicly admonish Kemp about his weight vs. calling out three specific guys publicly? Kemp’s a big boy, in more ways than one, and he should be able to take a little public critique. These three guys are 24, two of which have pitched less than 100 IP in the bigs, and one of which really wasn’t that bad.

  81. @139-140

    Seems more like Swanson, Allard, Jackson, and Touki. Should the Braves have made that trade? Heck no.

    The return for the Sox slides into their 1,2,7, and 29th ranked prospects according to Pipeline. Talk about filling the farm back up. I wonder what they get for Quintana and Frazier. Their organization could look very different next week.

  82. @141, his comments make it sound like some of them have literally been complaining about treatment / playing time / competition.

  83. Quintana is basically a slightly better, more consistent albeit, 2 years older version of Julio. Their contracts are essentially identical. He doesn’t carry the cache of a Chris Sale, but his surplus value is quite close. I’d expect a massive return on him as well.

  84. I’m thinking it was directed at Blair and his dad too. What an unbelievable sense of entitlement for someone who has pitched like crap. (He wasn’t even good at Gwinnett last year!)

  85. What has Blair’s dad said?

    It appears that Ramos is only asking for a two year deal. We should be all over that…

  86. I specifically remember him throwing AJP under the bus after a bad start. Even if his complaints were founded, it seems like a major violation of the unwritten rules of baseball if not western civilization.

  87. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the tough love approach to pitcher development. Pitching usually takes a certain amount of time to develop, and if you dump everyone who doesn’t pitch like an ace upon entering the league, you’re not going to have too many cost-controlled young pitchers in the end. Blair was a top 50 prospect as recently as a year ago, but now he’s a bum because he didn’t pitch well in his rookie season (a season in which the Braves themselves admitted they rushed him due to the lack of talent on the major league roster)? Maybe the specific situations of Wisler and Blair demand that they be called out, but I’d still prefer it be kept out of the newspapers.

  88. I assume the team would have to like any rule 5 pick more than Winkler as I cannot imagine we would keep 2 dead roster spots. I recall the Twins tried that a few years back and ended up returning both players by June.

  89. OK, sell me on Eric Wood. 2 questions:
    1) is a 782 OPS in the Eastern League anything to get excited about, and
    2) is he better than Winkler? Assuming health (not currently in evidence) I cannot see any of the eligible players this year being better prospects than Winkler.

  90. Ian Desmond got a 5YR/$70M deal with the Rockies. All’s well that ends well, I suppose. He’s going to play first, though.

  91. 1) not sure, but he hit well in AA last year also

    2) I’d keep Winkler. Wood has more upside than D’Arnaud

  92. YEAR // AGE // ERA+

    Jose Quintana:
    2012 // 23 // 113
    2013 // 24 // 120
    2014 // 25 // 113
    2015 // 26 // 116
    2016 // 25 // 125

    Julio Teheran:
    2012 // 21 // 74
    2013 // 22 // 117
    2014 // 23 // 123
    2015 // 24 // 95
    2016 // 25 // 129

  93. I guess the point is that Quintana is a slightly older, more consistent Julio. What would you ask for Julio? That’s what they’ll ask for Quintana.

  94. Somewhere on a White Sox blog comment section someone is arguing that they coulda won the division next year if they’d held on to these great players. Someone else is pumped for the shiny new prospects coming back. And someone is saying it’ll be a decade before they’re competitive again.

    Man, glad that’s not our blog.

  95. @167 Hey, it’s not too late to sell Teheran for a king’s ransom! That would still leave us with 5+ SPs…

  96. Seeing what the White Sox have done over the last two days has made me wonder if we should continue to double down. Sell off Inciarte and Teheran, and let one of the idiots take the open rotation spot and put Mallex in CF.

  97. #175 – Don’t think so. Pretty sure that puts us at 39.

    Either way, Braves selected Armando Rivera from the Cubs this am.

    67IP 105K’s last year in AAA

  98. @177

    Media didn’t accurately predict something. Shocking.

    So if I understand it correctly, a Rule 5 pick has to be placed on the 25-man roster, correct? So the Braves picked up a 28-year old with a 2.13 ERA, 105K in 67 IP in AAA, 6’4″ righty. Only problem is that he walked 35 guys in those 67 IP. I can live with this guy.

  99. @176 It’s actually Rivero, not Rivera. Strange – he only got a limited opportunity to close in the minor leagues (2014) and never got called up to the majors despite a career minor league ERA of 2.70 and 12.4 K/9. He’s spent three seasons at AAA with Chicago and has been dominant (albeit with too many walks) each year.

    There must have been a good reason the Cubs didn’t see him as major league material – I guess the Braves will find out (one way or the other) soon enough!

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