Alex Anthopoulos landed some helpful pieces right before the trade deadline, turning the Braves bullpen woes into a strength down the stretch. However, it still ended in an NLDS loss, and Atlanta was forced to move a few valuable prospects – some that have thrived in their new homes. Most every trade has a winning side; let’s see how the Braves did after one season complete.
Braves trade Kolby Allard to the Rangers for Chris Martin
Allard was immediately called up by the Rangers, and after his first several starts, he had the highest fWAR among pitchers that were traded at the deadline – that includes guys like Zack Grienke. Allard would come back to earth to finish the season though, ending with a 0.8 bWAR and a 4.96 ERA, but his FIP of 4.01 says he was subject to some poor luck.
I was a bit surprised the Braves had to give up their 2016 first-round pick for a lesser-known reliever on the last year of his contract, but apparently, Anthopoulos did not see Allard as a part of this organization’s future. That isn’t so startling considering the wealth of young arms the Braves have in the majors and minors. Still, the Rangers are going to view themselves as winners here.
Allard has seen a bump in velocity since moving to Texas and looks to be a back-end starter in the majors, at the very least. That’s a quality haul for a reliever in the last year of his contract. Martin was a reliable set-up man following a shaky start in Atlanta, and his peripherals suggest he was one of the most unlucky pitchers in baseball, posting a 1.63 FIP in 20 appearances. I’m sure Anthopoulos will consider re-signing him, but for now, the Braves are left with nothing, and the Rangers might have found a nice addition to their future rotation.
Braves trade Joey Wentz and Travis Demeritte to the Tigers for Shane Greene
It’s hard not to like what Joey Wentz was doing on the farm in 2017-2018, recording a 2.60 ERA in Rome and 2.38 ERA in Florida. 2019, however, was a step back for Wentz – at least with the Braves. Before he was traded, he put up a 4.73 ERA for AA Mississippi in 20 starts. But in his five starts since the trade, with Detroit’s AA Erie squad, Wentz went 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA. Perhaps that is a sign of a much bigger problem with the Braves minor league pitching development.
Demeritte thrived in AAA but was never going to have an opportunity to carve out an everyday role in Atlanta. He was a necessary piece to throw in to close the deal. He ended the season with a .225 batting average and 63 strikeouts in 48 games for the Tigers.
Like Martin, Greene got off to an abysmal start as a Brave, but he eventually settled in as the primary set-up man and was remarkable from the middle of August till the end of the year. The best part about this deal is we get to keep him for another season. He’ll cost a little money, but if he performs like he did in 2019, or close to it, this trade will have been well worth it.
Braves trade Tristan Beck and Daniel Winkler to the Giants for Mark Melancon
Now that we are in the offseason, where we begin to look at payroll, free agency, and all the possibilities – this is the trade that leaves me scratching my head the most. Daniel Winkler was nothing more than a throw-in. Tristan Beck was a lower-level arm with some promise but had yet to show much of anything before the trade. The kicker in this whole deal was that the Braves chose to eat the remainder of Melancon’s contract.
Last year, that did not matter at all. But this offseason, it could be the difference between the Braves landing a star free agent. Melancon is scheduled to make $14 million in 2020. While he’s been reliable over his career and did post a 1.83 FIP with Atlanta, that’s a massive overpay for a 35-year-old reliever who hasn’t had a sub-three ERA since 2016.
Melancon is going to be a valuable piece to the Braves bullpen next season, but knowing how much Liberty Media has limited the Braves spending over the years, I’m surprised Anthopoulos was willing to take on all of his contract. Maybe AA knows something we don’t, and payroll will be up this year, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Melancon better be a dominant reliever in 2020.