The Braves have been linked to frontline starters non-stop for the past calendar year, but those who were expecting John Coppolella to finally make that blockbuster trade at the trade deadline were disappointed. They should not be. The Braves have a bright future, but it makes no sense to trade away the wide pool of talent they have worked so hard to create when they have not reached their window yet. Instead, Coppy made just one minor trade before the non-waiver deadline, and two more in the past week. But if you look at the big picture of what Coppolella has done in the past couple weeks, you will come to realize simply how genius the guy actually is.
It all started with the (first) Jaime Garcia trade. Prior to the 2017 season, the Braves gave up prospects John Gant, Rob Whalen and Luke Dykstra to the St. Louis Cardinals for a one-year rental of Garcia. It is worth noting that all three prospects have seemingly regressed since making the deal. Jaime did his part and ate innings for the Braves, but once the deadline came around, Coppolella looked to get a return on his investment. He traded Garcia to the Minnesota Twins for prospect Huascar Ynoa. In addition to restocking the farm with another arm, the Braves also got the Twins to pick up the tab for the rest of the season. Overall, the Braves added another arm and saved around $4.75 million in payroll that can be used for next season.
While Garcia being moved was anticipated for weeks, the Braves came out of nowhere with their trade of Sean Rodriguez to his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rodriguez was simply no longer a need for the Braves with their plethora of infield options and had struggled to get his bat going since returning from a serious offseason car crash. The Braves acquired a non-prospect minor leaguer out of the deal, but getting Rodriguez off the books alone was a steal. With this trade, the Braves saved around $6.6 million.
Perhaps the biggest trade Coppolella made, however, is one the casual fan probably does not even know about. Last week, the Braves traded prospect Randy Ventura to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for $1.25 million in international bonus pool slot money. This sounds like chump change compared to the financial relief in the other trades, but this money goes much further with prospects. For example, the Braves signed Ozzie Albies out of Curacao back in 2013 for just $350,000. Ronald Acuna, who could soon be baseball’s top prospect, was signed for $100,000. With the Braves already having the likes of Acuna and Cristian Pache in the minors and Ender Inciarte on the major league roster, Ventura was expendable. The Braves will now look to reload with the extra money they have acquired from the Reds.
So let’s take a look at the big picture. The Braves freed up playing time for younger players by trading away Garcia and Rodriguez, and now have an extra $11.35 million to spend this offseason. That money can go a long way toward getting an impact player in free agency or even a trade. That is half of a superstar’s salary right there. They also acquired Ynoa, who has been terrific in his first two starts with the Danville Braves, and money to sign multiple prospects. All in all, these trades may seem minor, but it benefits the team now and in the future. John Coppollela has a vision, and it is coming together quicker than anticipated. He is positioning himself to make a blockbuster move this winter.