Braves have coveted recent trade acquisition for quite some time

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The Braves have been quiet compared to other NL East teams. The Phillies signed Trea Turner to a $300 million deal, and the Mets re-signed Brandon Nimmo and replaced Jacob deGrom with Justin Verlander. Atlanta has made one noteworthy move this winter, though. Earlier this week, Alex Anthopoulos struck a deal to acquire reliever Joe Jiménez from the Tigers in exchange for the team’s highest-rated position player on the farm, Justyn-Henry Malloy.

To the public, this was a head-scratching move. Many considered Malloy to be the future in left field, and Jiménez’s surface-level numbers don’t warrant trading that kind of prospect. He posted a 3.49 ERA last season over 56.2 innings and actually owns a much worse 5.24 ERA over his career. However, if we dig deeper into the deal, it makes a ton of sense.

The Braves are in win-now mode, and there’s never a guarantee a prospect will pan out, no matter how talented. Jiménez’s peripherals also paint a different picture than the surface-level metrics do. He posted a 12.2 K/9 in 2022, which ranked fifth in the American League, striking out a third of the batters he faced.

His 95th percentile strikeout rate is all you need to know to see what made him so attractive to Anthopoulos. His 2.00 FIP suggests he suffered abysmal luck this past season, and his 1.4 fWAR ranks him inside the top 30 relief pitchers in all of baseball. And according to AA, the Braves have coveted Jiménez for quite some time, dating back to last year’s trade deadline.

“We’ve been trying to acquire him for quite some time,” said Alex Anthopoulos, who said the Braves tried to get Jiménez at the trade deadline after his strong start to the season, but a deal never materialized. “He’s sitting 96 (mph) with the fastball, it’s up to 98, it’s got great extension, it’s got some rise and some hop. He throws strikes with it, he gets miss, slider’s a pretty good pitch as well. He can get both sides of the plate, left-hand hitters, right-hand hitters. He’s still a young man, and we feel he continues to improve and get better.”

The Braves will once again have one of the most potent relief cores in baseball, and the move to bring in a player with only one year left of team control shows the kind of confidence AA has in Jiménez.

Photographer: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire

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