Padres and Braves make HUGE trade on Opening Day

Original Text: April 5, 2015 (unlike most of my updates this update will continue below where I left off)

Well, I have other obligations at the moment and I will be posting my thoughts on this trade shortly but Kiley McDaniel from Fangraphs was the first to report that the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres have agreed on a rather large trade.

Craig Kimbrel. All I have to say is WOW. They REALLY wanted to get rid of Melvin Upton Jr. Kimbrel has been in the league for parts of just five seasons. He was named National League Rookie of the Year in 2011. He led the league in saves that year and has ever since. He’s a four-time All-Star and he’s just 26 years old.

The Braves could easily be thinking that keeping Kimbrel is going to cost them and relievers, especially flame-throwers like Kimbrel can be fragile. Plus, they are rebuilding but trading Kimbrel seems extreme to me mainly to rid themselves of Upton and the $46 or so million left on his contract, well I’m beginning to be able to wrap my head around it a bit ….

Ok, so I don’t have time to get too into what the Braves got in return. I will later if you feel like checking back but the Braves did get a lot back in this trade.

The return was pitching prospect Matt Wisler, minor league outfielder Jordan Paroubeck, outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, and the 41st overall pick. That IS quite a bit for Kimbrel if you really think about it.

So maybe this trade isn’t so crazy after all. I haven’t looked into the minor leaguers the Braves got from the Padres but when I do it’ll be posted here … either way, it’s made one already busy day that much more insane! 

UPDATE: April 6, 2015 6:45 am

Since yesterday was a holiday, in about a million ways – whether you’re a baseball fan, a Christian (I’m not) or both …. a lot of people were celebrating and then the trade between the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves happened.

Fans of the Braves may or may not have continued to celebrate depending on how they looked at this trade. For Padres fans on the surface they got the game’s most elite closer next to maybe the Cincinnati Reds’ Aroldis Chapman. Kimbrel may be better.

But did the Padres need bullpen help? Not really. Of course Kimbrel is an upgrade but the trade  doesn’t “address their lack of a true center fielder or lack of even a reasonable facsimile of a shortstop,” writes ESPN’s Keith Law.

Wil Myers. Getty Images.
Wil Myers. Getty Images.

While I agree that they need help at short, I’m not sure that Law is giving Wil Myers enough credit. We haven’t really seen him in center – after a month – then I will judge but a former Rookie of the Year who lost all of last season is probably really just getting his step back. He may be fine in center. To me that’s something only time will tell.

Shortstop Alexi Amarista is a different story. In parts of four big league seasons he’s never hit above .240 and has played all over the field, so yes, I can see where it would be a hole they could’ve probably filled via trade some way.

Instead they went for the upgrade at closer from Joaquin Benoit to Craig Kimbrel. It’s a big upgrade but necessary? It wasn’t necessary enough to take on the contract of B.J. – I mean – Melvin Upton Jr. who has been virtually useless since signing with Atlanta.

The Padres and new general manager A.J. Preller had made some impressive moves this offseason. This really isn’t one of them though. Taking on all that money for Upton and getting a reliever who may or may not last.

However, Kimbrel could be the next Mariano Rivera and be a closer for a couple of decades. That’s not the norm. The norm is that Kimbrel should be considered a potential risk. Personally, I think he’s the real deal here but you can’t predict how his body will hold up (I think it’s been doing pretty well the last 4-5 years but still).

Atlanta fans may be mourning the loss of a kid like Kimbrel. I would be absolutely!

*sidenote: The only thing I can liken it to, as an A’s fan, would be losing Dennis Eckersley in the prime of his career as a closer, say just before the 1992 season or before the 1988 season even (and yes, I know about Kirk Gibson, I watched that game as a seven-year-old and I’d still take the Eck over anyone but possibly Rivera – what kills me is that Eck walked Mike Davis to get to Gibson. Eckersley did NOT give up walks, hell he hardly ever let guys get to a 3-2 count on him like Gibson did.) but that’s a story for another day.

Sorry. I’ve been going off topic a lot like this lately … back to the task at hand …

Melvin Upton Jr. David Goldman/AP
Melvin Upton Jr. David Goldman/AP

However, overall the Braves got one heck of a return for Kimbrel and they freed up a ton of money by getting rid of Upton. The only way they were going to get that money off their books was to package him with someone as good as Kimbrel.

In return they got “three player/prospects of value, a draft pick and Carlos Quentin” as Law puts it. Pretend Quentin isn’t even in the equation as the Braves plan to designate him for assignment, that is if they haven’t already.

Having him out of the equations is a good thing considering at 32 he’s always injured, can’t play defense and only now and then still shows some signs of power. The Padres were happy to be rid of him and the Braves will be too.

Moving on to who will be of help to Atlanta during their “retooling” or “rebuiding” stage and, as is their hope, when they get to the World Series in 2017, the year their brand new stadium will be opening.

They got right-hander Matt Wisler who is major league ready now and can be a good middle of the rotation starter. So far he appears durable and has a low to mid 90’s fastball and some decent secondary pitches.

Paroubeck is an all-round outstanding athlete according to Law. As I don’t have a great working knowledge of the Padres prospects, we’ll leave some of these descriptions up to Law as he’s seen them play and knows more about them than I do

Paroubeck though, Law says, is behind a little bit and not quite major league ready after missing the 2013 season after shoulder surgery. Still, with some more development time and the added factor that he has some genuine raw power, he could play center or possibly even profile as a left fielder if he continues to hit for power. His arm isn’t strong enough to play right field though.

Cameron Maybin. Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.
Cameron Maybin. Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

Then there is Maybrin and the draft pick. The draft pick gives Atlanta the number 14, 28, 41, and 54 picks on the first day of the draft. It also comes with a $1,384,900 bonus value, meaning that the Braves will have the fourth highest total bonus pool this year.

The Braves were planning on using Eric Young Jr. in centerfield this year. Maybrin’s had a rough last two seasons with injuries and that suspension for using aderall, but he could easily be a better centerfielder than Young if he remains healthy.

Young, writes Law, is “a poor defender who doesn’t get on base and has no power.” So Maybrin is a good temporary upgrade for the Braves.

Overall it looks like the Braves came out the winner in this six-player trade. That is not something I thought I would be saying or even agreeing with when I first heard they gave up Kimbrel. As of this moment though they look like they made out better than the Padres.

In a few years though we may look back on this trade completely differently but that is only IF Kimbrel becomes the next Mariano Rivera or Dennis Eckersley. I’ve always been a big fan of Kimbrel’s so I find the likelyhood that he may be that “next guy” has a high probability in my mind but the reality is that the odds are not exactly in Kimbrel’s or the Padres’ favor. We’ll have to wait and see.

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