- Simmons’ departure is a tough pill for Braves fans, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. Simmons was a regular and was signed for several more seasons, and there was a good possibility he would make a brilliant defensive play in any given game. Simmons is the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith, O’Brien says, and there’s a parallel between the Simmons deal and the Padres’ regrettable decision to trade Smith in December 1981 after four years in San Diego as a light-hitting infielder. O’Brien also notes that the Simmons deal is likely to make the Braves less competitive as they open their new ballpark in 2017.
- The Braves’ rebuild will likely be painful in the short term, but is more likely to reap rewards in the long term than a more cautious approach, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider only). The Braves’ series of trades leaves them not only with a big collection of prospects, but also with the third overall draft choice next year and likely another top pick in 2017. The Braves are now at a low point in their rebuilding efforts (although perhaps not the lowest point, as Olney notes). The Cubs’ and Astros’ 2015 seasons, though, demonstrate the potential rewards of completing the task ahead.
- Braves GM John Coppolella says the team made the deal reluctantly, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “We didn’t want to trade Andrelton Simmons,” Coppolella says. “But we felt this was too good for us to pass up. We felt like we were getting so much talent back in this deal, that if we didn’t make this trade, it would be very tough for us to keep going forward with our plans.” Interestingly, Bowman implies that the Yankees pursued Simmons last offseason and offered a package that included top prospect Luis Severino.
- The Braves’ return for Simmons was merely a decent one, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (also for subscribers). The Angels did give up their top two prospects in Newcomb and Ellis, but they got a player in return who’s so good defensively that he’s valuable even if he doesn’t hit much. Simmons can also help the Angels win now, which is good, because their remaining farm system isn’t much to speak of.
- With the departures of Simmons and Jason Heyward, the Braves seem to be betting against their elite defenders aging well, FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron writes. Cameron finds, however, that great young defenders do tend to lose some defensive value from ages 26 to 30 (the age through which the Braves would have controlled Simmons), but that they compensate for that with stronger offensive performances (much as Smith did after moving from San Diego to St. Louis).
The Angels have officially agreed to acquire shortstop Andrelton Simmons from the Braves, along with catcher Jose Briceno. Lefty Sean Newcomb and righty Chris Ellis are going to Atlanta in return, along with long-time Halos shortstop Erick Aybar. The Braves will pick up $2.5MM in the swap to offset some of Aybar’s salary.
Simmons, 26, is arguably the single best defensive player in the game today. Though he hasn’t been consistent offensively, he has a tremendous floor because of his glove, which is as pleasing to the eye as it is to defensive metrics.
Simmons has shown promise at the plate at times. In 2013, his first full season in the majors, he slashed .248/.296/.416 and hit 17 home runs. But Simmons’s isolated slugging has fallen off precipitously since, with his groundball rate rising and frequency of hard contact tailing off. While the high-contact hitter managed a .321 OBP last year, his overall batting contribution was valued at just an 82 wRC+.
Los Angeles will take over the extension that Simmons signed last winter with his now-former club, pursuant to which he is owed $53MM over the next five seasons. Notably, not much cash has run off of that contract since it was signed, as Simmons was paid just $5MM total from signing through 2015.
The 23-year-old Briceno is not a major part of the swap. He spent all of last year at the High-A level, his highest placement yet, and slashed a meager .183/.215/.267 over 327 plate appearances.
The Braves, meanwhile, receive two hurlers who were widely considered the best prospects in an already-depleted (and now largely barren) Los Angeles system. When combined with last winter’s trade haul, Atlanta now has a loaded store room of young arms to deploy at the major league level or utilize in future trades.
Newcomb, in particular, is a major asset, as he landed inside the top twenty on MLB.com’s latest league-wide prospects list. The 22-year-old southpaw climbed from Class A to Double-A over the 2015 season, producing excellent run prevention numbers along the way. He averaged double-digit strikeout-per-nine tallies as well, though his composite 5.0 BB/9 walk rate shows that he’s still in need of polishing.
The 23-year-old Ellis, meanwhile, isn’t viewed in the same tier as Newcomb. The University of Mississippi product did have a solid 2015, though, logging 140 2/3 frames of 3.90 ERA ball, split between High-A and Double-A. He struck out 8.4 and walked 4.0 batters per nine along the way, but that K:BB rate took a beating after his promotion.
Aybar will likely serve as a placeholder for the Braves, who have a highly-regarded young shortstop in Ozhaino Albies who is a few years off but moving quickly through the system. Depending upon how the offseason and season progress, Aybar could also end up a trade piece.
The 31-year-old had a down year in 2015, slashing just .270/.301/.338 in 638 trips to the plate. But he had posted slightly above-average numbers over the four preceding years. Aybar has drawn more or less average career ratings in the field, though both DRS and UZR saw him as sub-par last season.
All told, Aybar still profiles as an average or better regular heading into 2016. After all, he’s fifth in all of baseball in fWAR accumulated over the past five campaigns. His $8.5MM salary will be reduced to a $6MM total for Atlanta, which makes him plenty valuable despite his pending free agency after the coming season.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported the swap on Twitter. The package going to the Braves was reported by MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links) and Joel Sherman of the New York Post (also on Twitter). Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links) and Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter) reported Briceno’s involvement. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweeted the monetary amount involved.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Mariners have continued to express interest in catcher Chris Iannetta, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports on Twitter. Iannetta, 32, hit the open market after four years with the Angels — which was, of course, also the most recent stop of new Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto. The M’s have also reached out to Jarrod Saltalamacchia as the team weights its options for veteran additions behind the dish, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.
Here’s more from the AL West:
- The Astros could aim to achieve “balance” with their roster moves, Evan Drellich of The Houston Chronicle writes. Adding some high-octane arms to the pen and some contact bats to the lineup might prove beneficial, though GM Jeff Luhnow notes that his primary concern is with achieving production through whatever means necessary (and, presumably, at a good value).
- In other news, also via Drellich, Luhnow says that he’s not inclined to move catcher Jason Castro and center fielder Carlos Gomez, even though both players are a year away from free agency. “I think Gomez right now is our center fielder and Castro’s our catcher and those guys are hard to replace,” Luhnow said. “We could be looking at a situation next year where either or both of those are in the qualifying offer camp as well, so. If you trade ’em, you’re potentially giving up opportunity to keep them on a one-year deal after next year. Or a draft pick if they choose to sign elsewhere. That’s a valuable situation. But most importantly for us, I think Gomez and Castro are key parts of our team next year.”
- Similarly, the Angels are not terribly concerned with the contract status of shortstop Erick Aybar, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. The Halos have several other priorities, and aren’t currently focused either on working out a new contract with the 31-year-old or finding his replacement.
- The Rangers will tender a contract to outfielder Leonys Martin, GM Jon Daniels made clear to the media today. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports, Daniels called that outcome “100%” to occur. There had been at least some questions about the 27-year-old’s status after a tough season, but it seems Texas still sees plenty of value. MLBTR projects Martin to earn $1.6MM in his first season of arbitration eligibility, which is hardly an overwhelming number.
- While the free agent market has had its draws for the Rangers in recent years, the club has also struck several major trades and is focused on talks with other teams this winter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. “I think there’s a little bit of confidence going into the offseason as far as [having] an experienced core, and even the young guys now have experience on a big stage,” Daniels told McTaggart. “You feel you can try to add a couple of pieces and [not] need to reinvent the wheel and totally change over the club. You don’t want to get complacent either, but there’s a confidence, especially [considering] where we were a year ago, and we’ve gotten some real positive answers [for] some of our injured guys.”
- The Rangers do, however, have interest in bringing back right-handed slugger Mike Napoli, Daniels added. If that happened, the club would look for him to work out in left field during camp to see if he could provide an option there alongside Josh Hamilton (who, it should be noted, just underwent another minor knee surgery).
- The Rangers have expressed interest in bringing former Marlins GM Dan Jennings into their front office, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported last week on Twitter. Jennings has reportedly drawn fairly wide interest since he was cut loose after a long run in Miami.
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar has switched his representation and is now a client of Roc Nation Sports, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (Twitter link). Juan Perez will serve as Aybar’s agent, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports (via Twitter). Aybar had previously been represented by Relativity Baseball.
Aybar is halfway through a four-year, $35MM contract he signed with the Halos in April 2012, and he’s owed $8.5MM in each of the next two seasons. The extension kept the 31-year-old off the open market, as he was scheduled to hit free agency following the 2012 campaign. Aybar has a .277/.318/.385 slash line over 4161 career plate appearances and has flashed a generally above-average glove at short, winning a Gold Glove in 2011.
For agency info on over 1,700 players, check out MLBTR’s oft-updated agency database. Agents: if you’ve got a 40-man roster player or top prospect whose representation is not correctly noted, we welcome corrections at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We just wrapped up the early reactions to today's biggest news out of the National League Central, but there are some other notes from the division that are worth a look:
- Though the Cardinals talked about acquiring Erick Aybar along with David Freese, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports via Twitter, that does not mean that a second deal is on the horizon. To the contrary, Goold says that the Cards do not expect to continue discussions about bringing Aybar in from the Angels, having realized that the Halos will demand a live, young arm even if Aybar's $25.5MM remaining salary is absorbed by a trade partner.
- A rival executive believes that St. Louis is in on Jhonny Peralta, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, and the Freese trade makes sense in that respect. That being said, Morosi says in another tweet that he has not heard whether St. Louis would go to four years for Peralta.
- Meanwhile, one must wonder whether the addition of Bourjos takes the Cardinals completely out of the running to sign another of the club's recent post-season heroes: Carlos Beltran. This is my speculation, but with top prospect Oscar Taveras knocking on the door, Allen Craig warranting time in right field to give Matt Adams at-bats at first, and Jon Jay still in the fold, a return for Beltran might require another trade to make sense at this point.
- Another trade went down today from the division, with the Brewers shipping out reliever Burke Badenhop to the Red Sox in exchange for 20-year-old lefty Luis Ortega. Baseball America breaks down the players involved, explaining that Ortega is a longshot to make the bigs and profiles as a reliever. The Brew Crew will shed an estimated $2.1MM arbitration salary in the deal, however.
- After shedding Badenhop from the pen, Milwaukee is not hot on the trail of any new relievers, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. As MLBTR's Ed Creech explained in his offseason outlook for the Brewers, the team's pen was hardly the problem last year, and seems to be in good shape save the possible addition of another veteran.
Mark Trumbo is the Angels' most wanted player via trade, but the Halos are very reluctant to trade him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "He fits us," said someone connected to the Angels. Meanwhile, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta also are getting a fair number of trade inquiries, and they could move one of them. Here's more of Heyman's latest..
- One club with interest in Jacoby Ellsbury says that agent Scott Boras has set Carl Crawford's $142MM contract as a benchmark in discussions, Heyman writes. One rival GM who isn't in on Ellsbury argued that Crawford was better and more durable at the time of his deal.
- The Astros, Orioles, Rays, Brewers and Rockies all have checked in on Mets first baseman Ike Davis, despite his awful 2013 campaign, according to Heyman. In the case of Milwaukee, however, they may prefer re-signing Corey Hart instead.
- Heyman suggests that the Marlins and Cubs could discuss a swap of top prospects and officials from both sides agree that they could have something to discuss. The Cubs have high-end position prospects such as Kris Bryant (who may be untouchable), Javier Baez, and Albert Almora, while Miami has a stockpile of strong young arms.
- We learned last week that Ervin Santana's asking price was $100MM and today Heyman hears that agents Bean Stringfellow, Joe White, and Jay Alou are seeking a five-year, $112MM pact. The agents are going around with a book of arguments to support their case, including some comparisons to Dodgers star pitcher Zack Greinke.
- The A's have joined the fray for free agent Nelson Cruz, but the small-market club could run into problems when it comes to dollars and years, Heyman writes. Oakland has been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder after declining to pick up the option on Chris Young, but Cruz would be a much bigger splash than anyone anticipated.
Here is Monday's list of notable players who have been placed on revocable trade waivers…
- The Nationals acquired David DeJesus from the Cubs earlier today and "almost immediately" put the outfielder on waivers, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. DeJesus' claiming period is up on Wednesday. Rival executives speculate that the Nats are trying to rid themselves of the approximately $2.5MM remaining on DeJesus' contract ($975K in salary, $1.5MM in a buyout of his 2014 option). This could be an attempt by the Nats to flip DeJesus, simply a procedural move or perhaps they never expected the Cubs to accept their original waiver claim on DeJesus in the first place. Amanda Comak of the Washington Times (Twitter link) opines that perhaps the Nats claimed DeJesus to keep him away from another contender.
- The Angels placed left-hander Jason Vargas and shortstop Erick Aybar on waivers, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). The claiming period for both players expires on Wednesday. Vargas was dealt to Anaheim from Seattle in exchange for Kendrys Morales last December and has posted a 3.92 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.00 K/BB ratio in 101 IP in 2013, though he spent almost two months on the DL recovering from a blood clot in his left armpit. Vargas has roughly $1.5MM still owed to him from his $8.5MM salary for the season and the southpaw is a free agent this winter. He could make a cheap pickup for a team looking for starting pitching depth during the pennant race, though Vargas' career road splits indicate that he struggles when he isn't at a pitcher-friendly ballpark like Angel Stadium or Safeco Field.
- Aybar signed a four-year, $35MM extension in April 2012 that covered the 2013-16 seasons and Aybar is hitting .282/.316/.380 in 417 PA in the first year of that new contract. Though the 29-year-old is known more for his solid glove (he won a Gold Glove in 2011), Aybar has a below-average -8.2 UZR.150 this season. The Cardinals had some interest in Aybar before the trade deadline but had no interest in giving up a top prospect in exchange for the veteran shortstop.
For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primer.
The Angels and Dodgers "held extensive trade discussions" about a possible deal that would've sent Howie Kendrick from Angel Stadium to Chavez Ravine, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Negotiations went on right up until the July 31 deadline, a source tells Rosenthal, and Zach Lee would've been part of the package that went back to the Angels in return. It isn't clear which team backed away from the deal.
Kendrick also drew attention from the Blue Jays and Royals before the deadline as the Angels openly shopped a number of pieces on their roster in an attempt to gauge their trade value and obtain young, MLB-ready pitching. (Alberto Callaspo and Scott Downs ended up being the only notable Angels moved in July.) ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on July 30 that the Angels and Dodgers had discussed Kendrick, but there was no indication that a deal was close.
Kendrick has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 12 teams, but Rosenthal notes that the Dodgers aren't one of them. Rosenthal says the Halos are likelier to deal Kendrick than they are Erick Aybar since they think it's easier to find a replacement at second base than at shortstop. Indeed, Anaheim may already have an in-house second base option in Grant Green.
The Dodgers' pursuit of Kendrick could be a sign, Rosenthal notes, that the team is looking for second base options besides Robinson Cano. It has been widely speculated that the Dodgers would be one of the very few teams that could meet Cano's salary demands in free agency but we heard earlier today that L.A. might not pursue Cano (or any major free agents) this offseason.
Kendrick, 30, has hit .301/.341/.437 with 11 homers in 451 PA, though hasn't played since August 5 due to a sprained left knee. He is owed $18.85MM over the 2014-15 seasons, the last two years of his current four-year contract. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Kendrick's limited no-trade protection drops to just six blocked teams in 2014, so the Halos could have a wider array of trade partners in the new year.
Lee, the 28th overall pick of the 2010 draft, was ranked by MLB.com as the sport's 78th-best prospect prior to the 2013 season. The right-hander has a 3.19 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 3.9 K/BB ratio in 26 games (23 of them starts) at Double-A this season. Lee's name has popped up in a few trade rumors in recent years, perhaps most notably in a rumored deal for Matt Garza in July 2012.
As noted earlier today, the Angels' acquisition of infielder Grant Green from the Athletics looks to be a sound move thus far, but the team still has plenty of holes, namely in the pitching department. Here's more on the Halos…
- Asked by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times whether or not GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia would return next season, owner Arte Moreno declined comment. Not surprisingly, Scioscia told Shaikin that he wants to remain with the Angels. He says he has not given any thought to one day managing his hometown Phillies now that Charlie Manuel has been fired.
- One general manager told Peter Gammons of the MLB Network that the Angels have the two most unmovable contracts in baseball in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. The same GM added that they "have no farm system" after trading for Zack Greinke and forfeiting their 2013 first-rounder to sign Hamilton, and they've wasted the inexpensive years of Mike Trout's career.
- Dipoto failed on his four offseason pitching acquisitions, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton have contributed very little for the Halos, which Dipoto himself acknowledged. The team is confident that Burnett will be healthy for 2014, but DiGiovanna writes that Blanton could be released in the offseason and Hanson non-tendered. The thin market for free agent pitching might ultimately lead the Halos to consider trading Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Erick Aybar or Howie Kendrick for young, controllable pitching help.
Kendrick, 29, will earn $9.35MM in 2014 and $9.5MM in 2015 in the final two seasons of a four-year contract with the Halos. He's hitting .298/.338/.444 with 11 homers this season and has drawn interest from the Royals in recent days. Anaheim flipped Alberto Callaspo to the A's in exchange for former first-rounder and second base prospect Grant Green, so the Angels have newfound depth at second base that could allow them to move Kendrick if they wish.