The Sean Murphy trade wasn’t the only significant deal Alex Anthopoulos swung this offseason. The Braves also traded their top position player prospect in Justyn-Henry Malloy to the Tigers in exchange for relieverJoe Jiménez. Jim Bowden of The Athletic recently ranked the top 10 trades of the offseason. The Braves acquisition of Sean Murphy came in at #1, which I talked about a couple of days ago, and their deal for Jiménez clocked in at #8. Bowden gave Alex Anthopoulos a grade of a B for the trade, while the Tigers received an A.
After losing Kenley Jansen in free agency, the Braves quickly traded for Jiménez, who will serve in the righty setup role in front of closer Raisel Iglesias. Jiménez notched 20 saves and made an All-Star team (2018) during his six seasons with the Tigers. Last year, he made 62 relief appearances and posted a 3.49 ERA (2.00 FIP) with 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.1 walks per nine. Jiménez, 28, will be a free agent after this season. The headliner going back to the Tigers was Malloy, a sixth-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. Last year, Malloy slashed .289/.408/.454 with 28 doubles, 17 home runs and 81 RBIs across three levels (High A, Double A, Triple A). This could be a rare trade that backfires on Atlanta if Malloy, 22, lives up to his potential.
Joe Jiménez isn’t a household name, but he features a downright filthy fastball/slider combination and is coming off the best season of his career in which he recorded a 2.00 FIP and 12.2 K/9. He’s not expected to close games for the Braves. That role belongs to Raisel Iglesias, who was unbelievable after he moved to Atlanta at last year’s trade deadline. However, Jiménez could be more valuable to the Braves this year than Jansen was last year. His addition solidifies what will once again be one of the best bullpens in baseball.
On the flip side, I was a big believer in Justyn-Henry Malloy and had him as the top prospect in the organization. He ascended all the way to AAA last season and posted a silly .408 on-base percentage across three levels as a 22-year-old. I thought he had a chance to come into 2023 and end up as the team’s everyday left fielder if he continued to progress the way he did last year, so this was a pretty hefty price to pay for a reliever.
With that being said, Malloy was only a top prospect for the Braves because their farm system is located at the bottom of the barrel. He was nowhere close to being considered a “can’t miss” prospect, and few organizations have done a better job of evaluating their own talent. The guys the Braves have held onto have blossomed into stars, while the ones they have traded away haven’t amounted to much, at least not yet. I wish nothing but the best for Malloy, but if the Braves were willing to move him for a reliever, they have a pretty good feeling that he wasn’t going to be an everyday player in Atlanta.
Photographer: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire
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