Braves Deadline Trade Shocks Fans

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Twitter exploded last night with the news of a deadline trade by the Braves sending two fan favorites to the Dodgers for Hector Olivera, and a supporting cast including Michael Morse from the Marlins.

The Deadline Trade

Alex Wood

Most of the fans angst was over the departure of Alex Wood, he’s a fan favorite and had a super 2014; this year however he hasn’t been as sharp. Setting aside emotion,

Woody is a number three pitcher who has reached his ceiling, has awful mechanics and for whom the Braves have multiple replacements waiting.  It really is that simple.

The rotation this year appears to be Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz and Williams Perez. Waiting in the wings are Tyrell Jenkins and Bronson Arroyo.

Jose Peraza

While Peraza was the Braves number one prospect and had been vaunted as the next great leadoff man, the reality is that his arm isn’t major league shortstop caliber and his defense at second is not as good as that of Jace Peterson.

Peraza doesn’t strike out but he also doesn’t walk a lot and hits mostly ground balls using his speed to beat them out. That method gets tough as a player moves closer to the big leagues and since moving to AAA his on base is just .319. While that might improve he projects close to Juan Pierre than Jose Altuve,  Jeff Passan put it this way.

Luis Avilan

Avilan signed with the Braves at 16 years old and worked his way up the Braves system. He broke into the Braves bullpen in 2012  throwing 36 innings over 31 games. In 2013 He became their primary lefty reliever and appeared in 75 games throwing 65 innings with a 1.52 ERA and 0.954 WHIP.

The 2014 season was not as kind however and his ERA ballooned to 4.57 and his WHIP to 1.596 in 62 games and 43 1/3 innings. Disappointed with his performance he contacted old friend Eric O’Flaherty who told him quite bluntly that he was fat.

Avilan took that to heart and returned this year looking a lot slimmer and obviously in better shape. So far this year he’s made 50 appearances throwing 37 2/3 innings with a 3.58 ERA and 1.195 WHIP striking out 31 while walking only 10.

Jim Johnson

Johnson started the year as setup man for Jason Grilli but ended up in the ninth inning after Grilli’s Achilles explodes. It wasn’t Johnson’s first foray into the closers role, he had 100+ save for the Orioles over a two year period, then it all fell apart.

A trade to the Athletics ended in disaster and when he came to Atlanta he was just trying to get it back together. He succeeded well enough that teams called and asked about him earlier in the week.  The market for relief pitchers was saturated however with players like Joaquin Benoit, Tyler Clippard, Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Frankie Rodriguez to name a few on offer. So Johnson alone wouldn’t return what he might have in a different circumstance. The Braves could either keep Johnson and see him walk away at the end of the year or take the best offer made and get something in return.  They chose the latter and JJ will now pitch for the Dodgers.

Bronson Arroyo

Late this afternoon we found that Arroyo was included and go to LA along with a portion of his contract.

Just how much of the money they get isn’t yet known but Jeff Passan indicates they accepted a total of $40M plus.

And Ken Rosenthal just said on MLB Network that he was just told the deal wasn’t final. Okay. . . I guess

Newest Brave

Hector Olivera

Mandatory Credit Greg Pearson USA Today Sports

Coming to Atlanta

Hector Olivera

According to Jim Bowden the Braves primary return will be Hector Olivera.

The Braves were in hot pursuit of Olivera this spring but they opened their huge checkbook and gave him $62M six-year contract that included a $28 million signing bonus – in fact a finder’s fee of sorts for the uh. . . “gentlemen” who helped him leave Cuba. Olivera’s making $2M this year so the Braves would owe Olivera about $32 million for the next five seasons.

UPDATE 10:45 EST 7/30/15: According to David O’Brien tweets explains what the Braves are effectively paying for Olivera over the remainder of his contract. He earns $2MM this season with about $750K left. The Dodgers will pay the remainder of his signing bonus so the cost will be about $31.25MM over the next five and a half years.

When Olivera signed there was much discussion about his elbow and a damaged UCL.  The Dodgers negotiated $1M a club option for a seventh year if he requires TJ surgery.

Olivera is currently out with a hamstring injury but so far this season he’s played 19 games at three levels and is currently slashing .387/.387/.581/.968 at Oklahoma City. He’s played both second and third this year but will undoubtedly land at third in Atlanta.

We wrote extensively about Olivera this spring. Please check out this link for more background on our newest infielder and check out Olivera doing some work for the Oklahoma City Drillers this season.

Michael Morse

Jun 18, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder

Michael Morse

(38) during the third inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins ship 33 year old first baseman/ left fielder Morse to

Atlanta

the Dodgers along with the first round A competitive balance pick in next year’s draft.  The Dodgers in turn send that comp balance pick to Atlanta.

Morse has a history of providing consistent power when healthy/ He had a great year for the Giants in their World Series campaign last season posting a .279/.336/.475/.811 line with 16 homers and 32 doubles and an OPS+ of 132.

Since signing with the Fish this year Morse missed significant time with injury and posting a .214/.277/.314/.592 line in just 173PA. While it’s possible the Braves could try to flip Morse to an AL team as a DH or an NL team willing to take a chance on his bat they could also slot him into left field and behind Freddie Freeman in the lineup to provide some long needed protection.

This is however another case of the Braves taking the remaining portion of his salary – about $3.5M this year and 8.5M next in order to land that comp pick.

There is no doubt however that when healthy Olivera provides a veteran player and a good glove to the left side of the infield and

along with a healthy Morse

makes the lineup

a lot

more potent.

UPDATED 10:45 am 7/30/15: Where Morse lands is still up in the air. It appears he may end up in LA after all. Morse and his contract go to LA.

May 24, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher

Paco Rodriguez

(75) pitches the fifth inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Paco Rodriguez

Paco Rodriguez is a 24 year old left reliever with a big arm. He was selected in the second round of the 2012 draft and after just 42 minor league games made his debut on September ninth against the Giants.

The following season he was an ever present in the Dodger pen making 75 appearances and posting a 2.32 ERA, 0.902 WHIP striking out 63 while walking just 19 in 54 1/3 innings. He began 2104 with the Dodgers but appeared in just eight games posting a 3.18 ERA , 1.417 WHIP striking out five and walking two in his 5 2/3 innings before being sent to AAA.  He returned to the Dodgers for two games at the end of April then spent May, June and the first half of July back in Albuquerque.

Over the next two years the hard throwing Rodriguez experienced a shoulder strain twice and on July second had surgery to remove loose bodies from him elbow. The recovery time is projected to be eight to ten weeks which would be between the end of August and mid-September. Realistically he might not be available this year

When healthy Rodriguez is a force of nature out of the bullpen. This season he started with the big club appearing in 18 games with a 2.61 ERA, 1.258 WHIP striking out eight and walking four in 10 1/3 innings. before his first DL stint.

Zachary Bird

The Dodgers chipped in to the deal by sending Bird to the Braves. Bird was selected in the 9th round of the 2012 draft at the ripe old age of 17. Baseball America’s draft report (subscription required) said that he had “touched 92 mph”  but went on to say he “was a raw talent which shows in his inconsistent delivery and control.”  At that time he threw a 70 mph curveball and was developing a changeup.

Beginning this season BA ranked him as the Dodgers number 19 prospect and provided an updated evaluation that said in part:”

“. . .by the end he was sitting 93-96 mph and cracked 99. In August, Bird ditched the windup . . . That simplified his delivery, allowing him to focus on attacking hitters more aggressively, and he posted a 38-to-8 SO/BB ratio in 26 innings in the season’s final month. . .has an electric fastball, but his secondary stuff needs work. . .  Bird’s stiff-shouldered arm action concerns some scouts, and his crossfire delivery causes him to finish closed off. That doesn’t help his control, which is trending in the right direction. . . (he) has the chance to develop into a back-end starter. If not, his power arm would play well in the bullpen. . .

By mid year Bird had made 17 starts at A+ Rancho Cucamonga post a 5-7 record with a 4.75 ERA (4,18 FIP) 1.317 WHIP striking out 95 and walking 45 in 89 innings pitched and MLB Pipeline elevated him to the Dodgers number 15 prospect. He’s striking out players at a 24% rate that comes out to 9.61 per nine.  The 6’3” 177 pound righty is still a raw talent but added to Touki Toussaint, Ricardo Sanchez, Matt Withrow and Chris Withrow the Braves suddenly have a stable of big arms coming through the system.

Here’s Bird at work.

UPDATE Braves Are Listening on Julio Teheran

More than that we do not know

That’s A Wrap

A three team deadline trade is always a bit confusing at first blush. This one made emotions rise because Woody is at least temporarily headed to LA – there are rumors he may go to Detroit as part of a deal for David Price. After taking a deep breath and putting things into context the deal and the reasons are fairly straightforward.

I liked Wood as much as anyone, he did yeoman’s work for the Braves when the better prospects were stumbling. He was however at this highest value as a number three starter – not a two a three sorry –  and a movable piece.

Peraza’s hype among Atlanta fans had surpassed his actual potential and with Peterson settled in at second for now and playing better defense, he too was expendable.

I would have liked something different but Woody and Peraza were the the $28M the Braves wouldn’t add to Olivera’s contract this spring.   They got Olivera for just over five million a year AAV, that’s a good value.  The Dodgers threw in Rodriguez who has the potential to be a big piece in a bullpen that’s starting to look like power arms are us. The Braves also picked up another young, controllable power arm and the Dodgers number 15 prospect.

The Marlins surrendered the number five comp balance pick for next year and sent Morris to Atlanta. Healthy, Morse is a power threat that the Braves have long needed. It’s true he’ll strike out a lot and he isn’t an elegant outfielder, but he and Olivera suddenly provide some right handed punch that balances the lineup and he may well be flipped to a team needing a DH.

Is it perfect? No.  But it neither is is some of the adjectives I’ve seen used on Twitter since the news broke.   It’s more than likely the last deal the Braves will make as well. I suppose A.J. Pierzynski could be dealt and there’s a slim – wafer thin – chance Jonny Gomes goes as well

I’m sure you’re going to let us know what you think and we encourage that. Remember, however, that because someone provides rationale for a deal, they aren’t necessarily a fan of all of the moving parts. With that in mind let’s hear your Take.

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