As the MLB trade deadline approaches, Alex Anthopoulos is wheeling and dealing. The Braves GM has already worked out two trades in deals with the Rockies and Rangers for Pierce Johnson and Taylor Hearn, respectively.
Hearn is a lefty depth piece that probably won’t make the biggest impact; he only garnered cash considerations. However, Johnson is a much more intriguing acquisition.
Despite owning a paltry 6.00 ERA, Johnson boasts a ridiculous 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranks fourth among all pitchers, to go along with 13 saves in 15 attempts. Moreover, he’s been much better as of late, recording a 3.27 ERA in his last 12 games.
In addition, the Braves are betting a move away from Coors Field will benefit him. Johnson owns a 2.31 FIP and 2.71 xFIP away from Colorado this year. His track record also suggests positive regression is in line. From 2020-2022, he posted a combined 3.39 ERA, 3.19 FIP, and 12.1 K/9 with the Padres.
So, what did the Braves give up? The Rockies received Victor Vodnik and Tanner Gordon. The former was the 10th-rated prospect in the Braves farm system before the trade. That’s a steep price for a middling reliever in 2023, right? Wrong.
Atlanta’s farm is one of the worst in baseball because of the blockbuster deals for Matt Olson and Sean Murphy, along with the recent graduations of other youngsters like Spencer Strider, Michael Harris II, and Vaughn Grissom. All the proof you need is looking at the Rockies’ farm system, which is considered average among the rest of the league.
Victor Vodnik ranks as Colorado’s 20th-best prospect — a far cry from 10th in Atlanta’s system. He’s a relief pitcher that wasn’t going to contribute at the major league level for the Braves for at least a year. The club is in win-now mode, so these prospects that might make an impact shouldn’t be a concern.
For instance, Gordon owns a 5.86 ERA across AA-AAA this season at 25 years old. That’s not exactly a prospect organizations are clinging to nowadays. Trading away prospects like Vodnik and Gordon shouldn’t worry Braves Country.
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