Revisiting the jaw-dropping Andrelton Simmons trade with the Angels

Braves fans were stunned after their star shortstop was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in 2015.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Scott Cunningham/GettyImages

As most of us know by now, former shortstop of the Atlanta Braves, Andrelton Simmons, has announced his retirement. A great career that ranged from 2012 to 2022 in the major leagues and totaled just over 9 years of service time.

Simmons will go down as one of the greatest defensive players of all time. He had 8 years where he was in the top 4 of dWAR, 6 years where he was in the top 2, and 3 years of accumulating the most dWAR. He finished tied for 11th in dWAR for a career with 28.5 dWAR.

One can always go back and look at the fun defensive highlights but today we are going to review the trade that sent Simba from the Atlanta Braves to the Los Angeles Angels.

The Atlanta Braves traded Andrelton Simmons and José Briceño for Erick Aybar, Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis, and $2.5M

How did the Atlanta Braves fair in the trade? At the time, most of the experts viewed the trade favorably for the Angels. A few questioned what the Braves were doing. While the Braves were heading straight for a rebuild, some believed Simmons still fit the Braves timeline. The Braves and John Coppolella thought it would be best to capitalize on his value. I understand their thinking seeing as the plan was to get really bad and rebuild a farm system and fix the organization that way.

Erick Aybar was really the third piece of this trade. While he was the most well-known name coming back to the Braves, he was just a piece for the team going into a rebuild to place at shortstop and potentially flip again later. Sean Newcomb was the main prize coming back. He was a top 100 prospect at the time and ranked as high as second in the Angels system. Chris Ellis was the sweetener as he was the 10th-ranked prospect in the Angels system.

What was also shocking was the Braves had just signed Simmons to a 7-year extension which would have kept him with the organization through the 2020 season.

An important note here, the Angels farm was not highly regarded at the time. In 2016, Newcomb was the Braves second prospect while Ellis was 14th.

José Briceño was the final piece of the deal, going to the Angels. He was acquired the year prior from the Rockies and was always thought of as organizational depth.

Looking back on what the Braves received, it did fit what they were looking for. They wanted to stock the farm with pitching prospects. Newcomb was a highly regarded pitching prospect, drawing some comparisons to David Price. Newk was seen as someone with front-of-the-rotation potential but would need to overcome control issues to reach his ceiling.

I do think they should have gotten a better deal at the time. Now, time to look at how the trade actually turned out.

Andrelton Simmons
Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels / John McCoy/GettyImages

Angels: 5 years of Andrelton Simmons worth 20 bWAR & 14.3 fWAR + parts of 2 seasons (48 total games) of José Briceño worth 0.5 bWAR & 0.5 fWAR. This brings the total to 20.5 bWAR & 14.8 fWAR.

Braves: Erick Aybar played 97 games for the Braves and put up -0.1 bWAR and -1.0 fWAR. Chris Ellis never played for the Atlanta Braves after struggling in both AA & AAA. He was traded in a package following the 2016 season to the St Louis Cardinals for Jaime Garcia.

Now for the centerpiece from the Braves perspective. Sean Newcomb pitched across 6 major league seasons for the Braves and put together a value of 4 bWAR & 2.7 fWAR. Oof. This means the Braves got a total of 3.9 bWAR & 1.7 fWAR for Andrelton Simmons.

Normally, the side that gets the major league player gets the better end of the deal. The team rebuilding even understands that as a possibility. They hope it goes much better than this. Newcomb did show signs of brilliance and that potential that made scouts love him but he was never able to consistently put it together for the Braves.

Because Newcomb never put it together, the Braves never had hope in this trade. If he failed, it was always going to be a loss.

Can we save it if we include what the other trades turned into? It was always thought the Braves might flip Aybar for something. Did it work out? On August 16th, 2016, the Braves would trade Aybar for... Mike Aviles who was designated for assignment the next day.

Well, at least the Braves turned Ellis into Jaime Garcia. In his 18 starts with the Braves, he accumulated 1.2 bWAR & 1.4 fWAR (and a cool grand slam!). The Braves then traded Garcia to the Twins for Huascar Ynoa! Ynoa would also hit a grand slam as a pitcher for the Braves!

Even with me trying to follow the trades down the line, it doesn't get much better. As we look back on the Andrelton Simmons trade, it is certainly one Braves fans would love to forget. It easily goes down as one of, if not the worst, trade of the rebuild.

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