Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hot Stove Update: Braves and Angels Complete A Strange Trade

The Braves, today, traded SS Andrelton Simmons along with a very low level catching prospect to the Angels for Erick Aybar and pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis.  Many analysts are saying the Angels won this trade and quite handily.  Others are saying the trade is about even and good for both teams.  Braves fans on Braves websites are perched on window ledges and high bridges.  What do I think?  Well, I am kind of scratching my head thinking it just might be a bad trade for both teams.

First of all, Andrelton Simmons is a very good defensive SS, maybe the best in baseball, although Brandon Crawford might have something to say about that.  He is also under contract for a very reasonable cost of $53 M over the next 5 seasons.  His offense is subpar to say the least, but he did hit 17 HR's in 2013 and may well have it in him to do it again.

Erick Aybar is an aging SS with just 1 year left on his contract.  The Angels are dumping him and the Braves are taking him only to get an extra prospect in the deal.  The Angels are kicking in $2.5 M to even out the money for 2016.

Sean Newcomb is a big LHP first round draft pick from 2014 who pitched very well at several minor league levels last year and should be ready for the majors as early as mid-season 2016.  Opinions are mixed on what is ceiling is.  Personally, I am bit skeptical.

Chris Ellis was a 3'rd round draft pick out of Mississippi in the same 2014 draft as Newcomb.  Ellis is a big dude at 6'4", 220 lbs.  His numbers so far are not as exciting as Newcomb's.  He projects as an innings eating #4 starter with an absolute ceiling of #3.

To me, this seems like a terrible deal for the Braves.  Simmons is eminently affordable and under contract through 2020.  If the Braves don't think they are going to be good again well before then, they need to seriously re-think their whole rebuilding scheme.  Newcomb and Ellis are decent to good pitching prospects, but the Braves already have a stable of comparable pitching prospects.  The only possible justification I can think of is the #3 prospect in the Braves system is SS Ozzie Albies who has put up great looking numbers in the low minors, but it's the low minors.  The Braves might have wanted to hang onto Simmons for another year or two to make sure Albies continues to develop.  On the other hand, I am sure they know their prospects quite well.

From the Angels side, it is true that they were in almost desperate need of upgrading their IF defense, particularly at SS.  They accomplished that.  On the other hand, the Angels rotation is headed by a couple of rapidly aging pitchers and they do not have a deep farm system at all.  I am not convinced that they needed to give up their top 2 pitching prospects, heck, their top 2 prospects, period, to upgrade their IF defense.  It's not like Simmons is also a plus at the plate.  Maybe they think it is easier to get pitching through the FA process than is is to acquire a defensive SS, but man, I don't know about that!

Final Grades:  C- for the Angels.  D for the Braves.


In other Hot Stove news, Colby Rasmus accepted his Qualifying Offer from the Astros.  $15.8 M is a lot of money for one season of Rasmus, but it's also just one season, so probably this is a good deal for both Rasmus and the Astros.

The Padres dumped Joaquin Benoit to the Mariners for a couple of very low level prospects. Man, I really don't know where the Padres go from here.  Less than a year after AJ Preller was the toast of last year's offseason, it's looking more and more like he's produced a train wreck down there.


  1. Wow, strange trade indeed! Pretty peculiar! That's a lot of WAR to give up for a couple of prospects, though Newcomb probably will be a Top 50 overall prospect by one of the services, only 22, reached AA, lots of K's (but lots of BB's too). Flew up three levels, and did well in AA, 2.75 ERA, though horrible 6.0 BB/9. But he does not give up a lot of hits or homers. And Ellis is also 22 YO and made AA, though didn't do as well, 3.92 ERA. But as you aptly note, they have a ton of pitching prospects, why another?

    Perhaps the Braves were put off by Simmons not winning the Gold Glove again? :^)

    While they have some age in their rotation, they have three under 30 starters last season who did well for them while pitching at least 18 starts: Garrett Richard, 27, 3.65 ERA; Hector Santiago, 27, 3.59 ERA; these two led the staff with 32 starts each; Andrew Heaney, 24, 3.49 ERA in 18 starts. Plus a Nick Tropeano, 24, 3.82 ERA in 7 starts. In addition, they got money, maybe they hope to pick up somebody in free agency, a second tier starter (don't really see their name when the top tier is mentioned). All in all, they have a lot of youth still, even with this trade of probably, as you note, their top two prospects, and Simmons should help their starters have better ERAs from the grounders he stops from being hits.

    So this trade looks pretty good overall for the Angels, based on the above. Excessive number of pitching prospects, because the above young starters are not proven yet and they might still need them soon, but Simmons have averaged roughly 4 WAR for his defense, that's a huge swing from Aybar, who is good defensively at SS, but not historically elite like Simmons. That will help their pitchers do even better, the young guys were all slightly above average ERA's.

    I would be more generous with the grade for the Angels, but this move only makes sense if they add a free agent pitcher to boost the rotation and allow for the possibility that some of the young pitchers don't continue to do well.

    1. Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson will both be FA's after this coming season and neither is one you particularly want to extend or re-sign.

  2. Simmons out of the NL? I have a feeling that, somewhere in the city last night, Brandon Crawford had visions and dreams of a large wall of Golden Glove awards....all with his name on them...

    Imagine this - both nonsensical, and true: Andrelton Simmons was the best defender, at any position, in the entirety of professional baseball last year.... And Brandon Crawford was better, and the best hitter at his position.

    Wow. How do you quantify that? How do you write up that contract?!

    1. Well, just because he won the GG doesn't necessarily make Crawford a better defender, but he is definitely a better player than Simmons. And yeah, Crawford is gonna get paid!

  3. Challenge trade! The Braves are saying in effect he is who he is, the defense will decline. That's a big risk, look at what the Giants get by being patient with Crawford's bat. Newcomb will be a top 3-4 lefty (I'd say Urias, Steve Matz and possibly Allard are better - oh wait, the Bravos drafted Allard!). (Giants didn't get a shot at Allard but they did have a shot at Newcomb and went Beede instead).

    Are the walks worrisome with Newcomb? Reminds of a Johnny Sanchez a tad, or our friend Crick. He pitched pretty well last year while zooming though.

    I'd say the team getting the control on the talent and the young established talent has the advantage. Its funny though, the Dodgers gave up Dee Gordon (Silver slugger and GG just like Crawford) and because he didn't have a great defensive statistical line and that babip it was declared an instant win for the Doyers. Players can improve, Dee Gordon certainly has, I think there is significant risk here that Simmons will, and that old TINSTAAP can rise up from time to time...

    Strange trade indeed.

  4. We all know that even if these prospects are rated high their future success has not been guaranteed. They could both be busts. In exchange you are getting a proven player with 5 years of control. This player has the ability to do better at the plate but he isn't horrible. The defensive runs he saves are huge, scoring 41,28,25 in DRS since 2013. I think this is a big win for the Angels. We wont know how the Braves did for a few years. Going with this same theory I am okay "giving up the farm" for a proven player with 4+ years of control. Arroyo, Beede and Susac for Carlos Carrasco would be fine by me although I would hope we could pay less.

    1. Man that is a lot to give up for guy I don't think has "proven" anything yet. Simmons has 3+ years in the bigs and 499 games, as well as two playoff appearances. Carrasco broke 180 IP for the first time this year, his age 28 season. He is probably one of those guys that is almost untradable - cost controlled and a big part of a losing teams rotation that they can build around, but too old and unproven for other teams to be willing to dump the prospects required to for the Indians to give him up.

      Simmons would be in a similar boat, except I guess the Braves think they have a long term shortstop in the system, and Simmons has a legitimate long track record AND long term cost control. And you only need one SS, so someone in the pipeline means you can move the top guy on. But with pitching you need 5 starters - you can fit in multiple guys into the rotation.