The Atlanta Braves have made yet another move this off-season trading prospects for Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia.
The Atlanta Braves haven’t been shy about making moves this off-season. Shortly after completing a trade with the Seattle Mariners for a prospect the Braves traded prospects for a Major League ready player. The Braves acquired lefty starter Jaime Garcia, in exchange the Braves sent prospects Luke Dykstra, John Gant, and Chris Ellis to the Cardinals for Garcia.
At first look it is a bit of a puzzling trade for the Braves. Why trade for a left-handed starter like Garcia who has one year remaining on his deal in exchange for prospects that could help the Braves long term? The answer is simply that neither Ellis or Gant have ever played into the Braves long term plans.
Ellis has struggled with control and Gant features below average stuff, that along with the amount of talent in the Braves’ farm system would put them well behind multiple pitchers and give them little chance to play a big role with the Major League team in the future. In essence the Braves traded three prospects they really didn’t need for a lefty starter that they may or may not need down the road.
Much like the Kelly Johnson deals that brought Gant to Atlanta this deal will neither really help or hurt the Braves rebuild long or short term. Garcia is a quality pitcher when healthy and is a definite upgrade over a Matt Wisler or even Mike Foltynewicz.
The problem for Garcia will be can he stay healthy? If he can stay healthy he will also be expected to bounce back to his usual numbers and not the four-plus ERA he had last season for the Cardinals. Over the course of his career when healthy he has been an above average arm that will keep his team in games. If the Braves can find that version of Garcia the deal will look like a bargain in retrospect and be well worth the price the Braves paid.
What may be most interesting about this deal is the fact that after it the Braves are still looking to pursue an ace to add to the front of their rotation. That signals two things for Braves fans who have been paying attention. First it signals the fact that for the first time in quite a while the Braves are looking to add players not to boost the farm but to help them win now.
The second is the lack of faith the Brave may have in Mike Foltynewicz. The math is simple Jaime Garcia, R.A. Dickey, and Bartolo Colon were all added to fill spots in the rotation otherwise the Braves had no incentive to acquire any of them. That leaves two spots left to fill and Julio Teheran will take one of them barring a trade. Mike Foltynewicz will take the second unless the Braves do acquire an ace that they are pursuing.
If that happens Folty will be the odd man out or could find himself part of the deal to bring an ace to Atlanta. Until that happens though Braves fans will remain skeptical that the Braves would really be willing to spend what it would take to acquire a Chris Sale or Chris Archer. Regardless as Braves fans we have a lot to look forward to as the 2017 season nears and the Braves look to bounce back to contention in the near future.