Atlanta Braves Rumors

Atlanta Braves trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Padres Acquire Kimbrel, Melvin Upton From Braves

The Padres are beginning the 2015 season with yet another blockbuster trade, receiving closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. from the Braves for outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, pitching prospect Matt Wisler, outfield prospect Jordan Paroubeck and the 41st overall pick in the June draft.

USATSI_8488950_154513410_lowresKimbrel is obviously the centerpiece of the deal, an elite closer who has posted dominant numbers since arriving in the league in 2010. Kimbrel is signed through 2017 for $33MM plus a $1MM buyout on a $13MM option for 2018. It’s not easy for a reliever to be a bargain at that price, but Kimbrel clearly is. His 2014 season, in which he posted a 1.61 ERA with 13.9 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9, was a fairly typical one. At 26, it’s reasonable to hope he continue producing at a very high level for the next several years if he can remain healthy, even though relievers tend to have shorter shelf lives than other player types. The move will, presumably, bump Joaquin Benoit back into a setup role. Kimbrel’s addition gives the Padres yet another big-name player to go with Justin Upton, James Shields, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks, all of whom they acquired in a transformative offseason.

The presence of the other Major League players in the deal has much to do with their contract statuses. None of them figure to help their new teams much. Melvin Upton is owed $46.35MM over the next three seasons. Even with the departures of Maybin and Quentin, the Padres have a full outfield and have no real use for Upton, who hit .208/.287/.333 in 2014 and also struggled the previous season. But taking on his contract surely helped persuade the Braves to part with a great player in Kimbrel. In San Diego, Upton will reunite with his brother Justin, who the Braves also recently sent west.

Quentin is owed $8MM in 2015. He hit .177/.284/.315 in 2014 and had no obvious role with the Padres. He has a no-trade clause, although it appears he waived it. The Braves plan to designate him for assignment, suggesting he was included in the trade purely to help offset salary. He could wind up with an American League team. Maybin, who will receive $15MM for the next two years plus a $1MM buyout for 2017, would have been an expensive reserve in San Diego. He hit .235/.290/.331 in 2015.

By parting with two players they didn’t figure to use much, the Padres will receive $24MM in salary relief to offset the salary they’re taking on with Upton. That means that they’ll add a total of about $56MM in salary as a result of the deal, continuing to aggressively increase their payroll after taking on big commitments in Kemp and Shields, in particular, this offseason.

Wisler is the most valuable property headed to Atlanta in the deal. Baseball America recently rated him the No. 34 prospect in baseball, with Baseball Prospectus ranking him No. 53 and MLB.com placing him at No. 69. MLB.com ranked him the Padres’ second-best prospect, praising his slider and the movement on his low- to mid-90s fastball. The 22-year-old righty posted a 4.42 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A in 2014, although he had a fine 8.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9, and most of his 146 2/3 innings were in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Paroubeck was a second-round pick in the 2013 draft. The switch-hitting 20-year-old hit .286/.346/.457 in rookie ball in 2014, and MLB.com ranked him the Padres’ 19th-best prospect, noting his ability to hit to all fields, along with his good speed and the reasonable likelihood that his power will develop. He and the draft pick give the Braves a bit of extra value in the deal, even though Wisler and the salary relief were likely much more crucial. (The Padres could, of course, trade the draft pick because it’s a Competitive Balance selection, and the current CBA permits teams to trade such picks.)

On the surface, the trade appears to be a risky one for San Diego. Kimbrel is inarguably a great closer, but it remains to be seen whether he will prove to be worth parting with $56MM, a top prospect in Wisler and two additional prospects in Paroubeck and the draft pick. The Padres also had more pressing needs in their infield, and it’s unclear whether Kimbrel is the right player to get them over the hump. As Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan notes, the fact that the Padres optioned solid relievers in Brandon Maurer and Kevin Quackenbush today shows how good their bullpen already was. And as the New York Post’s Joel Sherman tweets, perhaps an easier course if the Padres wanted to upgrade the closer role would have been to keep Huston Street, who the team’s previous management traded last year. Still, the deal unquestionably adds another blue-chip player to a team that’s suddenly full of them.

The Braves, meanwhile, continued their rebuild, subtracting salary while adding additional upside, including a starting pitcher in Wisler who should be able to help this year. Kimbrel’s departure will surely be painful for Braves fans, particularly given the Alabama-born Kimbrel’s Southern roots, but it might have only been a matter of time, since an elite closer is more valuable to a contender than to a rebuilding team. With Kimbrel gone, one of Jason Grilli or Jim Johnson, both of whom have closing experience, could take over ninth-inning duties in Atlanta.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to note that a trade was complete, and he also tweeted that the Braves would acquire Maybin, Quentin and the draft pick. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs tweeted that the Padres would receive Kimbrel and Upton, and that the Braves would receive Paroubeck. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweeted that Wisler was involved.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Reactions To And Fallout From The Kimbrel Trade

Here’s the latest on today’s trade of Craig Kimbrel to the Padres:

  • Padres GM A.J. Preller says he tried negotiating a variety of possible trades to bring Kimbrel to San Diego, but the only way he could do it was to also take on Melvin Upton Jr.‘s contract, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.
  • Upton (foot) likely won’t be available until May, and he will not challenge Wil Myers for the starting center field job, Preller says (via Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller on Twitter).
  • This was a difficult trade to make from a personal standpoint,” says Braves GM John Hart, via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter links). “From a professional standpoint, we continue to be consistent in our plan, where we’re gong and what we needed to do to get there.”
  • Braves icon Chipper Jones took to Twitter (1 2 3 4) to defend the trade from Atlanta’s perspective. “I know it sucks, Braves Country, but once you decide to rebuild, you better go all the way,” he wrote. “You now have a ton of minor league talent that is on the verge of being Major League talent. You now have four picks in the top 54 picks in this year’s draft. And you now have flexibility in your payroll to be able to compete on the free agent market if you so desire.”
  • The deal is a risky one for the Padres, who now have over $68MM on the books for Kimbrel, Upton, Matt Kemp and James Shields in 2017, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. If the Padres don’t win with their current team, Preller could quickly have to pivot into rebuild mode. Meanwhile, the Braves’ signing of Nick Markakis to a $44MM deal this offseason now looks “preposterous” now that they’re shedding salary.
  • The Padres improved what was already a team strength with the trade, and now they have the best bullpen in baseball, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes. Nonetheless, the deal was a risky one from the Padres’ perspective, given the amount of money involved and how unpredictable relievers can be.
  • Both the Padres and Braves doubled down on their current strategies with the trade, Sherman writes. The Padres continued buying talented but expensive veterans, while the Braves continued a rebuild that they had already begun.
  • The Dodgers were, at one point, in discussions with the Braves for Kimbrel, but they were unable to strike a deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.

Added To The 40-Man Roster: Sunday

The rosters for Opening Day have been officially submitted this afternoon. Several minor league signees have won jobs with their clubs and earned 40-man roster spots. Here are today’s additions:

  • The Orioles will purchase catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s contract on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. The 25-man roster that the Orioles announced today included Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger at catcher, but not Lavarnway, who they had reassigned to the minors.
  • The Padres have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of catcher Wil Nieves. With Tim Federowicz out with a knee injury, Nieves will back up Derek Norris. As we noted when Nieves signed, his big-league salary will be $850K.
  • Ryan Madson has made the Royals‘ Opening Day roster, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Madson caps his comeback from multiple elbow injuries and his first appearance for Kansas City will be his first in the Majors since 2011.
  • The Nationals have announced on Twitter that second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Reed Johnson have made their Opening Day roster.
  • The Braves announced they have officially purchased the contracts of outfielders Eric Young, Jr. and Kelly Johnson, left-hander Eric Stults, and right-hander Cody Martin. The Braves cleared space on their 40-man roster by placing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino and outfielder Dian Toscano on the restricted list.
  • One name missing from the Braves‘ roster is Pedro Ciriaco, who was reported yesterday to have made the club. This is likely a procedural move, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links), because the Braves placed Josh Outman on the 25-man roster instead of releasing him after the left-hander complained of shoulder tenderness. The move will also buy the Braves some time to look for an upgrade over Ciriaco, tweets Bowman.
  • The Phillies have announced outfielder Jeff Francoeur and infielder Andres Blanco have made the team. Francoeur is just one of four outfielders on Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, so he could see time as Grady Sizemore‘s platoon partner in right field. The Phillies are now at their 40-man limit.
  • The Marlins have selected the contract of utility player Don Kelly, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Kelly earned his spot with solid Spring Training line of .270/.357/.324 in 42 plate appearances. Frisaro reports the 35-year-old will backup both the corner infield and outfield spots, as well as serving as the team’s emergency third catcher.


NL Notes: Duda, Cueto, Tomas, Braves, Diamondbacks

The Mets and Lucas Duda have failed to reach an extension prior to the first baseman’s Opening Day deadline and have shelved negotiations, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. “No agreement was reached, so talks have concluded and Lucas will focus on the upcoming season,” agent Dan Horwits told Rubin. Duda will make $4.2MM in 2015 and will be eligible for arbitration two more times before becoming a free agent following the 2017 season.

In other National League news and notes:


Roster Moves: Hernandez, Enright, Robinson, Uggla, Ciriaco, Stults, Petit

Here’s a roundup of some 40-man roster news as teams decide who will break camp for Opening Day….

  • The Diamondbacks have announced (via Twitter) that Archie Bradley, Gerald Laird, and Jordan Pacheco have made the roster. Bradley, a top prospect, will join the rotation. Laird will serve as the backup catcher while Pacheco will probably take on a super utility role that includes some catching.
  • The Astros have selected the contract of Roberto Hernandez, per the MLB transactions page. The right-handed sinker specialist has a 4.60 ERA in 1,264 innings. He split the 2014 season between the Phillies and Dodgers.
  • The Dodgers have released right-handed pitcher Barry Enright, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Enright is a veteran of four major league seasons, although he struggled at the top level. He owns a 5.57 ERA, 4.60 K/9, and 3.15 BB/9 in 148 innings.
  • The Nationals will select the contract of outfielder Clint Robinson, reports Chelsea Janes of the Washington Times. Robinson, 30, is a career minor leaguer with just 14 major league plate appearances. In 1,771 Triple-A plate appearances, he’s hit .303/.392/.494. Janes also notes that the club is almost certain to retain second baseman Dan Uggla. He’s one of just five healthy infielders with the club.
  • The Blue Jays have opted to roster eight relievers for the start of the season with Liam Hendriks making the cut, writes Sean Farrell of MLB.com. The righty appeared for the Jays and Royals last season. He has a career 5.92 ERA in 188 innings. Second baseman Ryan Goins was optioned in a corresponding move.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that utility man Pedro Ciriaco and pitcher Cody Martin will probably make the team. Ciriaco is a career .270/.299/.372 hitter over 498 plate appearances split over five seasons. The pair were added at the expense of outfielder Todd Cunningham and pitcher Michael Foltynewicz.
  • Also making the Atlanta roster is pitcher Eric Stults, writes Bowman. The soft-tossing lefty has a solid big league career with a 4.12 ERA, 5.69 K/9, and 2.53 BB/9. His best season came with the Padres in 2013 when he pitched 203 innings with a 3.93 ERA.
  • The Yankees have selected the contract of infielder Gregorio Petit, reports Chad Jennings of LoHud. Petit, 30, is a career .278/.301/.391 hitter in 156 plate appearances.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels says Anthony Bass will travel with the club to Oakland, reports Stefan Stevenson (via Twitter). He’ll make the team barring a last minute acquisition. The 27-year-old reliever struggled with the Astros last season. In 27 innings, he allowed a 6.33 ERA with 2.33 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9.
  • The Phillies have selected the contracts of right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez and left-handed reliever Cesar Jimenez, the team announced on Twitter. Gomez owns a career 4.41 ERA with 5.23 K/9 and 3.14 BB/9. He pitched well this spring in 12 and two-thirds innings, allowing a 0.71 ERA with nine strikeouts and one walk. Jimenez is familiar with the Phillies as he’s bounced between Philadelphia and Triple-A over the past two seasons. In 81 innings, he has a career 4.32 ERA with 6.09 K/9 and 3.09 BB/9.

(more…)


Minor Moves: Tomas, Oliver, Brignac, Zito

Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Diamondbacks have optioned Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the team reports via Twitter. The club signed Tomas for $68.5MM over the offseason. He struggled both defensively and offensively this spring. A stint in Triple-A should give him time to adjust to the outfield and improve his plate approach.
  • Phillies Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver has elected free agency after he was outrighted, the club announced via Twitter. The hard throwing lefty has struggled with walks throughout his career. That continued this spring with 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 12 and two-thirds innings. The club also announced on Twitter that they reassigned catcher Rene Garcia, first baseman Russ Canzler, and infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A.
  • Marlins utility infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. In 905 major league plate appearances, Brignac has a .222/.266/.314 line.
  • Athletics pitcher Barry Zito has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. The former star is working his way back from a one-year hiatus. He posted a 4.79 ERA in 20 and two-thirds spring innings. The 37-year-old struck out 14 and walked five. A former ninth overall pick of the A’s, the southpaw struggled after moving across the Bay to San Francisco on a seven-year, $126MM contract. That deal concluded after the 2013 season.
  • The Red Sox have released Casey Crosby, Bryan LaHair, and Matt Hoffman per the MLB transactions page. Crosby was once a top prospect with the Tigers, but the 26-year-old lefty has yet to develop command. Lahair, 32, had a nice run with the Cubs in 2012 when he hit .259/.334/.450 with 16 home runs in 380 plate appearances. He spent the 2013 season in Japan and split 2014 between Cleveland’s Double and Triple-A clubs.
  • The Phillies have released shortstop Tyler Greene according to the MLB transactions page. Greene, an 11th round pick, was once rated among the Phillies’ best prospects. He missed the entire 2014 season and has never posted a strikeout rate below 33 percent at any level.
  • The Giants have released pitcher Edgmer Escalona per the MLB transactions page. Escalona pitched in parts of four seasons for the Rockies, accruing 100 innings. He has a career 4.50 ERA with 6.39 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9.
  • The Cubs have released lefty pitcher Francisley Bueno according to the transactions page. The 34-year-old has pitched in parts of four season for the Braves and Royals. The soft tossing lefty has a career 2.98 ERA with 4.92 K/9 and 1.79 BB/9 in 60 innings. He’s a pure platoon pitcher.
  • The Braves released former closer Matt Capps per MLB.com. The righty last appeared in the majors in 2012. He has a career 3.52 ERA with 6.53 K/9 and 1.72 BB/9. He’s thrown just 12 minor league innings over the last two seasons – both with the Indians.

(more…)


NL East Notes: Nats, Chapman, Duda, Braves

ESPN’s Jayson Stark is picking the Nationals to win the World Series, and his opinion that they’re baseball’s best team is shared by many scouts and executives around the game.  The Nats have depth, playoff experience, an incredible pitching staff and an easy road (on paper) to the postseason since the NL East projects to be a weak division.  Also, with so many major free agents after the year, the Nationals have a great sense of urgency to win in 2015 and will surely be aggressive in filling roster needs throughout the season.  “They have what everyone wants — a ‘now’ team with ingredients they can move if they need to,” one scout told Stark.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • As an example of how aggressive the Nationals could get, Stark heard “a lot” of speculation that they could try to obtain Aroldis Chapman from the Reds at the trade deadline if Drew Storen underachieves as closer.  This would, of course, likely depend on whether or not the Reds are themselves contenders.
  • There’s no progress on extension talks between the Mets and Lucas Duda‘s representatives, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports.  The two sides are still talking but have yet Opening Day as the negotiating deadline.
  • No teams are showing any “significant interest” in Mets righty Dillon Gee, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (via Twitter).
  • The Braves are still considering possible trades, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets, but it seems as if Pedro Ciriaco will make the roster as a backup outfielder.  Ciriaco signed a minor league deal with Atlanta last October and the Braves will have to create a 40-man roster spot for him if he indeed breaks camp with the team.
  • At the moment, the Braves aren’t close to making any trades, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).

Minor Moves: Gillespie, Buschmann, Constanza, Coffey

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Outfielder Cole Gillespie has accepted an assignment to Triple-A from the Marlins, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Gillespie, 30, had the opportunity to elect free agency but has chosen to remain within the organization. The former third-round pick (Brewers, 2006) split the 2014 season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, hitting a combined .243/.300/.311 in 81 plate appearances. He posted a .690 OPS in 33 PAs this spring.
  • The Rays have acquired Minor League right-hander Matt Buschmann from the Athletics, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). The 31-year-old, who is expected to serve as Minor League rotation depth, was a 15th-round pick of the Padres back in 2006 and has spent parts of six seasons at the Triple-A level. Last year, in his first and only season with Oakland, Buschmann worked to a 4.40 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 143 innings of Triple-A ball.
  • The Braves have released outfielder Jose Constanza and veteran right-handed reliever Todd Coffey, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The 31-year-old Constanza offers quite a bit of speed (298 Minor League steals) and posted perhaps surprisingly solid numbers with the bat in 2011, but he’s slumped to a .555 OPS in 121 PA since that debut. As for Coffey, the former setup man hasn’t pitched since 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, but he enjoyed a nice run from 2009-12 with the Brewers, Nats and Dodgers, pitching to a 3.76 ERA in 225 innings of relief. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets one more Braves release — veteran catcher Jesus Flores. The 30-year-old spent parts of five seasons as Washington’s backup catcher but hasn’t seen the Majors since 2012.

Braves Release Wandy Rodriguez

The Braves released left-hander Wandy Rodriguez today, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (on Twitter). Rodriguez had been competing with fellow southpaw Eric Stults for the final spot in Atlanta’s rotation, so it would seem that Stults has won that battle. Last night’s acquisition of Trevor Cahill limited the remaining rotation slots and seemingly forced the Braves to choose between one of the remaining candidates as opposed to each making the club.

The 36-year-old Rodriguez hoped to lock down a rotation spot with the Braves after missing the majority of the 2013 and 2014 seasons due to a forearm strain and knee surgery, respectively. Rodriguez made a name for himself in the Astros rotation beginning in 2008, and from that season through 2013, he worked to a combined 3.48 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 997 1/3 innings between Houston and Pittsburgh.

Injuries limited Rodriguez to just 26 2/3 innings and a 6.75 ERA last year, but he looked sharp for much of Spring Training with Atlanta. In 23 innings this spring, Rodriguez notched a 3.13 ERA (eight earned runs) on 22 hits and eight walks with 23 strikeouts. It would be difficult to say that Stults, 35, definitively outpitched Rodriguez. Though Stults’ 1.89 ERA was superior, he also struck out just seven hitters in 19 innings of work for the Braves.

Rodriguez was set to earn a $2MM base salary upon making the club, but he’ll now instead hope to latch on with another team seeking some depth in its rotation.


Braves Notes: Cahill, New Additions, Benson

In the wake of the Braves’ trade for Trevor Cahill, here’s the latest out of Atlanta…

  • Though Cahill had an underwhelming 2014 season, assistant GM John Coppolella tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Braves see a lot of upside in the righty.  “
  • Coppolella didn’t comment on whether the team had decided to keep either of Eric Stults or Wandy Rodriguez, both of whom can opt out of their minor league contracts tomorrow.  The two lefties are battling for the fifth spot in Atlanta’s rotation, and Rodriguez has been announced as part of the staff earlier in the spring, though that doesn’t appear to be a sure thing at this point.
  • Acquiring a right-handed starter in Cahill checks one item off the Braves’ preseason to-do list, and MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the club is also looking to trade for relief depth and a backup center fielder.
  • That backup center field job could still go to an internal candidate, with Joe Benson and Todd Cunningham looking like the top prospects for the job, O’Brien writes.  Benson has already earned his way from the minor league camp to being an official non-roster invite to the Major League camp, even though Spring Training is almost over.  Benson’s nine-year pro career has only seen him play 21 MLB games, all with the Twins in 2011.