We’ve been supportive of John Hart’s overhaul, but with the season drawing to a close it’s instructive to take a look at the players obtained in the purge.
For Jason Heyward: Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. Shelby has rebounded from a disappointing sophomore campaign and is one of the few pitchers the Braves can count on in 2016. Jay Hey has blossomed with the Cards, but due to Frank Wren’s bungling there was no chance of re-signing him. Jenkins has been okay in the minors (3.19 ERA) but has a low strikeout and high walk rate.
For Justin Upton: Max Fried, Mallex Smith, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson. Fried is the prize of that deal, but he’s yet to pitch so we’ll see. Smith looks to be a potential force atop the order, hitting .307 with a .371 OBP and 56 steals between Double and Triple-A. Jace Peterson profiles as more of a utility player, as his .236-.310-.332 splits indicate. Dustin Peterson has a middling.672 OPS at High-A. If Fried realizes his potential this trade will be a win, but as I said at the time the Nationals fared much better with the Padres, acquiring Trea Turner and Joe Ross, today’s pitcher, in a three-team deal that sent 26-year-old rookie Steven Souza to Tampa.
For Evan Gattis: Rio Ruiz and Mike Foltynewicz. The former Braves catcher has 22 homers and 73 RBI but a .278 OBP and poor defense negates much of his value. But that’s more than the Braves have received from Ruiz, who’s been a major disappointment, batting .233 with a .656 OPS at Mississippi. It should be noted he’s been better of late. Foltynewicz has gone the other way and looks best-suited for the ‘pen.
For Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr.: Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Matt Wisler and Jordan Paroubeck. Dumping B.J.’s contract was paramount here, and Maybin has been a nice surprise, but Wisler doesn’t look to be anything more than a back-of-the-rotation type.
For Alex Wood, Jose Peraza Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan: Hector Olivera and Paco Rodriguez. Wood tossed seven shutout innings last night. There’s questions about his durability, and whether Peraza will get on base enough to utilize his terrific speed, but did the Braves get enough? Olivera hasn’t exactly impressed so far, but this trade will require patience — as much patience as you can allow a 30-year-old with a troubling injury history.
Verdict: It’s early, and the pitchers are young, but not all young pitchers struggle (see the Mets rotation). We’re not questioning the wisdom of trading Heyward and Upton. But so far it doesn’t appear as if the Braves acquired many difference-makers. Hopefully we’ll see these players take a big step forward in 2016. If they don’t John Hart and Co. have a lot of work to do.
Today’s pitcher, Manny Banuelos, was worth the cost of two middle relievers, but he’s still being handled with care. The Braves will be lucky to get five innings from him, which means the bullpen will have to step up. In other words, the streak is all but certain to reach 12 games.
Olivera, Peterson, Freddie, AJ, Swisher, Peterson Garcia, Simmons, Bourn, Banuelos
Olivera scratched due to a foot bruise. What’s the over/under on him playing 140 games next year?