Back in 2016, when the Braves were pretty terrible, then-GM Jon Coppollela took a swing at the fences for Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia. In return, Atlanta sent St. Louis Chris Ellis, Luke Dykstra, and John Gant. At the time, it was a pretty reasonable return. Nobody else made much of an impact for the Cardinals, and although Gant looked pretty solid for Atlanta, I don’t think anyone expected what he would become in St Louis. Hindsight is always 20/20, and although the Hector Olivera and Tommy Milone trades were massive failures, the Jaime Garcia trade made sense at the time.
When Atlanta sent Gant to St. Louis, he had a pretty “meh” 4.86 ERA, but his peripheral stats looked even more telling. With a .329 BABIP and a 4.39 FIP, Gant didn’t appear like anything special. However, in 2018, he really started making an impact. Not only did his ERA plummet, but his FIP, HR/9, BB/9, and BABIP began to fall as well. Additionally, his K/9 kept steadily rising. He capped off this run with a fantastic 2020 season. Gant was rocking a 1.93 ERA and 2.13 FIP before injury troubles, and St. Louis missed him sorely. Obviously, wins are a meaningless stat, but losing a guy who went 11-1 as a relief pitcher in 2019 really hurt the Cards down the stretch. This isn’t about 2020, though; this is about 2021.
Reports have come out that Alex Anthopoulos is being heavily restricted by ownership financially. With Shane Greene still unsigned, Atlanta may just have to roll with guys like Carl Edwards Jr.and Nate Jones, hoping one of them can fill a late-inning relief role. Gant still has two more seasons of arbitration, and while he can be streaky, he could have been the righty answer in Atlanta’s bullpen along with Chris Martin and Jacob Webb. It’s easy to say now, almost five years later, but it’s a loss that is still being felt today by the Braves.
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