The Atlanta Braves have seemingly become one of the first teams to get things heated up during the Hot Stove season.
The first big blockbuster trade went down last week with the Bravo’s trading Right Fielder and Gold Glove winner Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals with relief pitcher Jordan Waldon. In exchange the Braves get Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. In addition to that the team also will save a little bit of money, get players that they can control for a few years as well as gain some added payroll flexibility. The Braves are in need of rebuilding a young, unproven starting rotation that is also filled with uncertainty as they await finding the availability and ability of Kris Medlan and Brandon Beachy.
The loss of Heyward is an interesting one to try to make sense of. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? How are we supposed to look at this? Are they throwing in the towel for 2015 and looking to rebuild and try to be ready for 2017 when they move into the new stadium? Is this just the first step in simply retooling? It seems that it will all depend of what shoes fall next.
John Hart and Co. still have some big decisions to make and potentially some big deals that may or may not happen. It does seem clear that the team is looking to gain players that they are able to control for a few years that offer a little more cost certainty. What happens with Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and maybe even BJ Upton will be interesting to see. It would be interesting to see if the Braves don’t try to completely re-make their entire outfield. J-Up is set to be a free Agent and the Braves would likely be inclined to move him for a strong return. If he goes does Gattis move to left? Maybe Gattis gets moved to somewhere like KC to be a DH to take the spot that Billy Butler held. What then happens to BJ, do they hope that new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer can do something to get he to be even just a little bit productive or can he be flipped for someone else’s bad contract?
It seems that money, as much or more then anything is the motivation to do a lot of these moves. The Braves want pitching and controllable years. They have a questionable offense as it is constructed now and a thin minor league pipeline coming up. This is evident with the move that sent 2nd baseman Tommy La Stella to the Cubs for Arodys Vizcaino and $830K in international free agent money.
Until the next shoe drops it will be hard to judge what the Heyward deal means and also what the Braves plans are for next season and what the look of the team will be heading into Spring Training.