Braves

Looking Back at the Braves’ Offseason Trades at the Midseason Mark

When the Braves take the field Saturday at the Ted, they will be participating in their 81st game of the season, marking the mid-way point of the campaign. In this article, we will be taking a look at each trade and how they have worked out for Atlanta. Sure, you can’t really tell how a trade is going to work out until years later, but we now have more perspective on these moves than we did at the time of each transaction. Let’s take a look:

Braves Trade CF Kyle Wren to the Brewers in Exchange for RHP Zach Quintana

This move came shortly after it was announced that the Braves were relieving former General Manager Frank Wren of his duties, who also happens to be Kyle’s father.  Wren started off with a nice start for the Brewers in AA this season, but has struggled since being called up to AAA. With Cameron Maybin occupying Center Field for Atlanta and Jose Peraza and Mallex Smith both being potential future options to fill the position, Wren had little to no future with Atlanta. He has little power with a decent contact bat. Zach Quintana is having a nice season for Rome, as he has posted a 2.40 ERA in 20 appearances (5 starts). It doesn’t seem that either team has particularly won or lost this trade, and it was just a minor move.

Braves Trade 2B Tommy La Stella to the Cubs in Exchange for RHP Arodys Vizcaino

This is one of those trades where it’s really too early to tell who won this trade. This is mostly because La Stella has complied just six at bats for the Cubs, and Arodys Vizcaino is fresh off an 80 game suspension. The Braves have Jace Peterson now occupying second base, which makes La Stella expendable, and I think there’s no question Vizcaino has higher upside. He’s ranked as our 13th best prospect in the organization.

Braves Trade RF Jason Heyward and RHP Jordan Walden to the Cardinals in Exchange for RHPs Shelby Miller, Tyrell Jenkins

With the way Shelby Miller has pitched for Atlanta, this trade is looking like highway robbery. Miller has emerged as an ace and Cy Young candidate, as he has posted a 2.20 ERA in 16 starts (4th best in MLB). The Braves haven’t had an ace that could go out and almost guarantee a victory in any given game in years, and they got that in Miller, who’s under team control for four more seasons. Tyrell Jenkins is no scrub, either. He has a 3.03 ERA in 15 starts for AA Mississippi this season. Jenkins still has work to do, but he has high upside and is ranked as SportsTalkATL’s 10th best prospect in the Braves Organization. Jason Heyward has talent, but is also a streaky hitter and in the last year of his contract. He’s having a great year with the Cardinals as he has boasted his Gold Glove defense and is hitting .283 with 9 homers and 29 RBI. Jordan Walden has battled injury, but when on the mound this season he has been lights out. At the end of the day, the Braves did not want to pay Heyward, and they got a big time return for him. If the Cards lock up Heyward to an extension, this could be a deal that benefits both sides. If he’s in another uniform in 2016, they struck out big time with this trade.

 Braves Trade RHP Anthony Varvaro to the Red Sox in Exchange for RHP Aaron Kurcz

Many did not understand this trade when it was made. Anthony Varvaro was an effective reliever for the Braves, but he was underutilized by Fredi Gonzalez. However, Varvaro’s 2015 has been one to forget. He started the season with the Red Sox, but made just 9 appearances before Boston designated him for assignment. He was claimed off waivers by the Cubs, but was returned to Boston when it was revealed he had a torn tendon in his arm. Perhaps Varvaro’s 2015 would have different in Braves Country, but right now it looks like the Braves have gotten the better end of this deal in the long term. Aaron Kurcz has the potential to be a great relief option for the Braves as soon as this season, and he has posted a 3.26 ERA in 30 appearances for AAA Gwinnett. He has to work on reducing his walks, but in his minor league career he has a 2.87 ERA and has averaged an impressive 11.7 K/9.

Braves Trade LF Justin Upton and RHP Aaron Northcraft to the Padres in Exchange for 2B Jace Peterson, LHP Max Fried, 3B Dustin Peterson and CF Mallex Smith

Only one player the Braves got in exchange for Justin Upton is playing at the Major League level right now in Jace Peterson, but it looks like the Braves have definitely got the better end of this deal. Look, Justin Upton is a phenomenal player, a star. But he wasn’t in the Braves’ future plans, and had one year left on his deal. The Braves got a crazy good return for Upton. Jace Peterson is in the midst of a slump as of late, but he has proven to be a nice leadoff option for the Braves and has established himself as out everyday second baseman. He and Andrelton Simmons combine for one of the best double play duos in the league, and Peterson is a nice contact hitter as well. LHP Max Fried is the highest touted prospect Atlanta acquired in the deal at the time, but he is sidelined for 2015 due to injury. We have him ranked as the 7th best prospect in the Braves organization. Dustin Peterson is the overlooked name in this deal, but he’s having a nice season in his own right for A+ Carolina. He has played third base and left field, and has hit .276 with 5 homers and 26 RBI. Peterson is only 20, and I think he has room for improvement in the power category. He has the potential to be a solid Major Leaguer, and we have him ranked as our 11th best prospect in the system. Now for my man, Mallex Smith. Smith could make the Padres regret this deal for years to come. He was an All-Star for AA Mississippi this season, as he hit .340 with 23 steals. He has since been promoted to AAA Gwinnett. Smith has the potential to become one of the best leadoff hitters in the MLB, and reminds me a lot of Michael Bourn. We have him ranked as our 8th best prospect in the system. Justin Upton has offered the Padres the same type of production he did for the Braves, but they went all in on 2015 and it has backfired on them in a big way. Aaron Northcraft had a nice year in AA, but has struggled since being promoted to AAA. At the end of the day, the Braves restocked their farm system for a year of Justin Upton, and that’s pretty damn good.

Braves Trade LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP David Carpenter to the Yankees in Exchange for LHP Manny Banuelos

The Braves have resurrected Manny Banuelos’ career. The Yankees gave up on Banuelos as he was slow to recover from injury, and the Braves threw some relief help at the Yankees to grab the former top prospect. Banuelos made his Major League debut on Thursday, giving up just two hits and no earned runs with 7 K’s against the Nationals. He was pulled due to cramps and dehydration, but Manny was just continuing to pitch like he has all season. He had a 2.29 ERA in 15 starts for AAA Gwinnett. With Atlanta’s bullpen struggling, however, it would be nice to have Chasen Shreve on the roster. The southpaw has been dominant, and owns a 1.87 ERA in 29 games. David Carpenter is now with the Nationals, as the Bronx Bombers designated him for assignment and then traded him. This deal had benefited both sides so far. The Braves got their high upside starter, and the Yankees got bullpen help. Banuelos is ranked as our 6th best prospect in the organization.

Braves Trade 3B Kyle Kubitzka and RHP Nate Hyatt to the Angels in Exchange for LHP Ricardo Sanchez

Kyle Kubitzka has finally hit the Major Leagues with the Angels. It’s a small sample size, however, as he has spent most of the season in AAA, where he has hit well. Nate Hyatt has struggled in AA. This trade was really about the Braves taking a gamble and giving up a more MLB ready prospect in exchange for a guy with more upside. Ricardo Sanchez just turned 18, and has battled some injuries this season. He hasn’t been outstanding for Rome, but this is one of those trades where it’s simply too early to tell who got the better end. Sanchez is ranked as out 16th best prospect in the organization.

Braves Trade C/DH Evan Gattis and RHP James Hoyt to the Astros in Exchange for RHP Mike Foltynewicz, 3B Rio Ruiz, RHP Andrew Thurman

Many speculated for a while that Evan Gattis could be on the trading block since he projected best as a DH, and they were right.  This is one of those trades I’m still not sure about. The Braves had control of Gattis for four more seasons, and are in desperate need of one more power bat.  Really, it comes down to the fact that it’s 2015, and it’s time for the MLB to either have the DH league-wide, or get rid of it as a whole, but that’s a story for another day. However, his defense was an issue. He is hitting .242 with 13 homers and 49 RBI for Houston. Mike Foltynewicz has a straight cannon, and has a lot of potential. However, he has been very inconsistent and it’s no guarantee he ever pans out the way the Braves hope. Rio Ruiz got off to an awful start for Mississippi, but has been hot the past month or so. The third baseman is ranked as SportsTalkATL’s 12th best prospect in the organization. Andrew Thurman has pitched well but has only made 6 starts due to injury this season. We have him ranked as the 24th best prospect in the organization. James Hoyt was essentially a throw in in this deal, and has a 6.14 ERA in AAA. I’m still not sold on this trade, but I understand that it was made because we could not maximize Gattis’ value. We’ll see how it pans out.

Braves Trade RHPs David Hale and Gus Schlosser to the Rockies in Exchange for Cs Jose Briceno and Chris O’ Dowd

Honestly, it looks like nobody has really won this trade. Hale has spent most of the season in AAA, and has struggled for the Rockies as a starter in his 7 starts. Schlosser is back in AA. Jose Briceno was supposed to be a nice catching prospect, but he has really struggled for the Braves. He’s hitting just .196 for A+ Carolina. O’ Dowd, like Kyle Wren, was traded after his father was dismissed as his team’s GM. He’s not really considered a prospect, but he does have a .304 average in Mississippi and could have a future as a backup Catcher in the bigs. Briceno is still ranked as our 18th best prospect due to prior success, and we got more upside in this deal, but it looks like both teams struck out on this deal.

Braves Trade LF Josh Elander to the Diamondbacks in Exchange for RHP Trevor Cahill

Trevor Cahill is probably the worst pitcher I’ve ever seen suit up for the Braves. Next.

Braves Trade RHP Craig Kimbrel and CF Melvin Upton Jr. to the Padres in Exchange for CF Cameron Maybin, LF Carlos Quentin, LF Jordan Paroubeck and RHP Matt Wisler

This trade looked great at the time it occurred, and with the way Cameron Maybin has played it looks even better now. Maybin is playing the best baseball of his career, hitting .289 with 6 homers and 37 RBI. He has also been one of the most clutch players in baseball, as he is hitting .391 with runners in scoring position. At the time of the deal, many thought that Maybin’s contract could become hazardous for Atlanta, but as of now this is far from the case, as he has been one of the Braves’ best players this season. Quentin and Paroubeck are no longer with the team. Matt Wisler is ranked as our top prospect in the organization, and has finally made his way into Atlanta’s rotation. Two of his first three starts have been absolutely phenomenal, and Wisler’s ceiling is through the roof. Craig Kimbrel continues to be one of the best closers in the game, with 21 saves and a 3.19 ERA. These numbers are nowehere near as good as they were when he was with the Braves, but are impressive regardless. Melvin Upton Jr. has been, well, Melvin Upton Jr. His hitting just .175 for the Padres, and getting rid of his contract that owes him $45 million over the next three seasons makes this a good deal for Atlanta. They had to give up an outstanding player in Craig Kimbrel, but at the end of the day he is just a closer. Obtaining financial flexibility, a stud centerfielder and a future front-line starter for Kimbrel is a steal in my book, regardless of how missed he is in Braves Country. Jason Grilli hasn’t been too shabby.

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