On Sunday night, the Atlanta Braves did what many people thought they would do in July, or next off-season. They traded Craig Kimbrel. And for a short time, baseball Twitter lost their ever-loving minds.
Perhaps it’s because it’s a rare occasion when such a significant move happens so close to Opening Day. The only other thing that comes to mind that is comparable is in 1998 when Cincinnati traded their Opening Day starter, right before Opening Day itself. That, my friends, is a move that takes some cajones, if you know how much Opening Day is revered in that city.
From the Braves perspective, this move makes a lot of sense. Kimbrel was going to be making 33 million dollars over the next 3 seasons, and the Braves are unlikely to be real contenders during that time-frame. Also, shedding Melvin Upton saves them 46 million dollars over that same time-frame. (All told, counting the money they had to take in from San Diego, the Braves are saving around 56 million dollars of guaranteed money.) So, really, no matter what the return, trading those two guys was probably a pretty good idea.
But, the return is actually quite decent. They got Cameron Maybin, who, before having two injury-marred seasons in 2013 and 2014, was a solid major league regular. That’s an upgrade over Upton, unless Upton can somehow find a time machine to take him back to 2012. Carlos Quentin is going to be DFA’ed, and if he’s smart will hook up with an AL team that could use a righty DH, so there isn’t much to add to that, but Matt Wisler, a RHP who rated third in the Padres system by BP, is an interesting get. Wisler is apparently major league ready, as reported by both BP and Keith Law, and a 21-year-old who doesn’t get raked in the PCL is quite promising indeed.
The other player the Braves received, OF Jordan Paroubeck, is one of those raw athlete types who is probably years away from making an impact, but the skills are strong enough that his stock could rise rapidly if he figures everything out. They also got the 41st pick in the upcoming draft. So, to recap, the Braves got a starting player, a potential mid-rotation starter, a guy who has a fairly high ceiling, (but also a pretty low floor, to be fair) and a draft pick. All for two guys who weren’t going to be worth the high salaries they were going to be paid on a team that was unlikely to win anyway. In a vacuum, this looks like a pretty big coup for John Hart and co., but it makes one wonder why they gave Nick Markakis 44 million dollars. Why did they give Nick Markakis 44 million dollars, anyway? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
From the Padres perspective, this appears to be one of those trades that helps both sides, but not as much as you might think. Kimbrel is projected to produce about 1 WAR more than Joaquin Benoit, but what probably is more meaningful is that slotting Benoit into a setup role slides lesser pitchers out of higher leverage situations, and now the Padres bullpen looks to be stacked. Kevin Quackenbush had a pretty good year in 2014, and he was optioned to AAA, so there’s quality up top and depth at the bottom in case anyone falters.
Upton may not be Andruw Jones in center, but replacing Maybin with Upton means they’ve at least still got a guy on their roster who has played center field in the major leagues, and played it well at times, so if nothing else Upton could help defensively, as that is likely going to be a weakness for this team, especially in the outfield. They lose Maybin, but he didn’t seem to be in their plans anyway, and Quentin is basically useless to an NL team, and if they are where they think they are on the win curve, even a 2 win upgrade makes it worth it for them as well. Also, if nothing else, this means we get to all use our Upton memes again!Next post: 6, Not 5, Players Who Will Outperform Their Projections
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