The Atlanta Braves trade of Kyle Wright wasn't about the money honey

The Atlanta Braves trade of Kyle Wright caught both he and the fans off guard.

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Kyle Wright was surprised when he heard he'd been traded.
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Kyle Wright was surprised when he heard he'd been traded. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves acquired Pitcher Jackson Kowar from the Royals. / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Number is 59%

Wright attempted to rehab his shoulder all season before the doctors advised him that he required surgery to repair a torn capsule (labrum) in his throwing shoulder, a SLAP repair.

A SLAP (superior labral anterior-posterior) injury is a tear to the labrum. I first wrote about this injury over 10 years ago. Since shoulder stability is critical to controlling pitch location and the labrum stabilizes the shoulder, a slap tear is an unwelcome diagnosis. A separate study focusing on SLAP injuries said this is a serious issue.

SLAP repair (is) an option for SLAP tear treatment only after nonsurgical management has failed. Some players may be able to return to baseball after SLAP repair, although regaining preinjury health and performance is challenging.

How challenging? Only 59% of pitchers and 76% of nonpitchers were able to return to play and perform at close to their previous level.

Rate of Return to Elite Baseball Pitching Following Shoulder Surgery looked specifically at pitchers who returned after any shoulder surgery.

"…68 percent of the players were able to get back into action (pitching competitively) approximately 12 months after surgery."

"Some players …within nine months … Others were not ready for a year and a half …few (played) in the same year they had the surgery. This was especially true for those who had rotator cuff or labral surgery."

Not a dollar amount but a percentage

Statistically, Wright has a 59% chance of making it back to the bump by early 2025, but it could easily be 2026 or not at all. The Royals were willing to bet $1.4M that Wright would return sometime next year. The Braves need healthy pitchers, and while Jackson Kowar struggled to find his footing, he was the 33rd pick in the 2018 draft and a top-100 prospect for Baseball American and Baseball Prospectus as late as 2021. Baseball Prospectus writer Brian Menéndez discussed Kowar today.

"he possesses…an airbender style changeup that has 300 more RPM than his fastball…the fourth-highest spin rate in baseball for its pitch type, per PitchInfo…the good news is that both his fastball and breaking ball trended in the right direction this year, but there’s still quite a bit of work to do!"

Even if Kowar doesn’t become the mid-rotation arm his stuff predicts, he’s a potential back of the bullpen arm with two pitches that batters love to WHIFF on.

That’s a Wrap

The number involved in The Atlanta Braves trade of Wright’s trade had nothing to do with his salary and everything to do with the ability to pitch now. Stretching actual salaries moved in the trades was only $14+M if you include all of the players who were going to be non-tendered. The trade itself brought back Bummer’s $5.5M, Wright’s trade brought Kowar’s ($740K) salary back, a net change of $700K; the Atlanta Braves have since added $23.7M worth of pitching.

If there was any doubt in your mind that TNSTASPP is real, the meteoric rise and fall of Atlanta Braves prospects like Sean Newcomb, Michael Soroka, and Kyle Wright among many others, should erase them. I sincerely hope Kyle Wright makes a complete recovery and has a long career but I understand why the Braves traded him to the Royals, and it wasn’t to clear $1.4M.

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