A tale of two offseasons: Braves rebuilt at Padres’ expense

One of these guys got an extension. The other could get traded again. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

One of these guys got an extension. The other could get traded again. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

One of these guys got an extension. The other could get traded again. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

One of these guys just got a contract extension. The other could get traded again. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Last week Rany Jazayerli of Grantland dissected the San Diego Padres’ offseason and proclaimed it a disaster. It’s not just that the Padres loaded up for a big year and haven’t been any good. (They’re six games below .500, having actually won four in a row.) It’s that, as Jazayerli explains in excruciating detail, the way San Diego loaded up all but guarantees it won’t be any good anytime soon.

The key paragraph in Jazayerli’s very long story:

Add up the damage and it’s staggering. In one offseason, the Padres traded away one of the best catchers in baseball (Yasmani Grandal); an above-average starting pitcher (Jesse Hahn); an above-average corner outfielder (Seth Smith); an above-average center fielder (Cameron Maybin); and pretty much their entire farm system. Per Baseball America, the Padres traded away their No. 1 (Matt Wisler), No. 2 (Trea Turner), No. 4 (Joe Ross), No. 6 (Max Fried), No. 9 (Zach Eflin), No. 10 (Jace Peterson), no. 15 (Jake Bauers), No. 16 (Mallex Smith), No. 21 (Dustin Peterson), No. 23 (Burch Smith), and No. 30 (Johnny Barbato) prospects, along with the 41st pick in the draft.

The primary beneficiary of this largesse has been the Atlanta Braves, who now employ Maybin, Wisler, Fried, M. Smith and both Petersons. They also exercised the draft’s 41st pick, taking Austin Riley, a third baseman.

As much as we around here hated seeing the Braves offload talented players over the winter, we can’t say they got fleeced on any deal. No, prospects don’t always pan out, but the Braves had little hope of keeping Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, who were about to become free agents; that they, not being an American League team, had no position for Evan Gattis, and that they, having shed those hitters, didn’t figure to need the game’s best closer in Craig Kimbrel. (And they dumped Melvin Upton Jr. to boot!)

If you’re the Braves, you’re ecstatic about every one of those trades today. Shelby Miller, acquired from St. Louis in the Heyward deal, made the All-Star team. They landed prospects Mike Foltynewicz and Rio Ruiz from Houston in exchange for Gattis. They absolutely fleeced the Padres, landing not just a passel of prospects but a starting second baseman (J. Peterson) and a starting center fielder (Maybin).

Before Friday’s game at Turner Field, I spoke with three Braves higher-ups about Jazayerli’s story and the Padres in general. None would admit delight in another team’s misfortune. (Unless that team is the Nationals. The Braves hate the Nationals.) But it was clear they had a hard time grasping what A.J. Preller, the Padres’ rookie general manager, was trying to do.

Loading up the way Padres did, sacrificing young for old, going all-in to win now: “It never works,” said one Braves voice.

Said another: “The team that wins the offseason (by making a slew of glitzy trades) almost never wins the season.”

The Marlins were thought to have “won” the 2011/2012 offseason by landing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell and trading for — that’s correct — manager Ozzie Guillen. They finished last in the National League East and fired Guillen.

That November, the Fish shipped Reyes, Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to Toronto in the trade that helped the Blue Jays “win” the 2012/2013 offseason. (They also added R.A. Dickey and Melky Cabrera.) Toronto finished last in the American League East.

There was a time when the Padres appeared to have won the offseason just past. In addition to Kimbrel and the Uptons, they imported Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks and the free-agent pitcher James Shields. There’s thought now that Preller will try to trade J. Upton, Kimbrel and Shields before the July 31 deadline in the hope of reclaiming some of the young talent just jettisoned. That’s not apt to work, either.

As one Braves voice said: “When you do what they did, what do you do now?”

The Braves, who were the biggest sellers of the offseason, and the Padres, who were the biggest buyers, have the same record (43-49). Difference is, one has a viable future.

Reader Comments 0

50 comments
HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

If not for the early struggles from their starting pitching, disastrous bullpen and Freddie Freeman's injury this 2015 team would be in the thick of the division race, if not actually leading the NL east.


But it is what it is, time to take the investments made in the off season (veterans) and start trading them for more prospects and talent.


A.J. Pierzynski, Kelly Johnson, Jim Johnson, Jonny Gomes, Juan Uribe and Chris Johnson should bring a sizable haul in trade. But I would advise keeping Cameron Maybin, he's 28 and under contract through 2017.

PhilW1957
PhilW1957

And it can be argued that the Braves would be at least a .500 team now, if not for the Freeman injury. (I will say, the only trade that really, really hurt was Kimbrell)

SeanLB
SeanLB

@PhilW1957 But strangely, Kimbrel's trade didn't hurt us.  Bad luck struck when Grilli went down, but he was filling in perfectly for Craig.  Johnson isn't terrible.  In fact, I'd offer the exact opposite argument:  Craig's trade didn't hurt us nearly as much as anticipated.  

patriotdog
patriotdog

Heyward is what he is. A .260 hitter with great defensive skills. I'll take Markakis any day. Maybin is having a wonderful season, the new hitting approach seems to suit him well. Peterson is in a slump, but is good enough that Peraza is still at Gwinnett and has no reason to think he won't stay there until September call ups.

John Hart is the man.

Jeff Randall
Jeff Randall

@patriotdog Markakis is solid, but to take him over Heyward is ignoring their ages, defense, and potential for improvement...

SeanLB
SeanLB

@Jeff Randall @patriotdog There's that word again:  potential.  We are finally giving up on players "potential".  Because in the end, you always trade potential for proven talent.



ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Never seen so much enthusiasm for a team that can't play .500 ball, can't score, has no bullpen and is getting worse rather than better.

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

@ImaNitwit  At least you picked your screen name well.  "Getting worse rather than better."?????

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

I wouldn't get too giddy over Maybin, Jace Peterson or the Hayward deal just yet. Let's wait and see how many years go by until the Braves are able to play.500 ball.

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

If it makes people feel even better:

Uggla batting .208 

Melvin Jr batting .203


Those 2 jokers could still be on the 25 man roster.

Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

It is yet to be determined how our GM tandem will do with signing free agents.

Seattle is another team that has sunk itself with the insane 10 year 240 million deal with Robinson Cano.

Maybe they can work a deal with the Padres' novice GM next offseason.

What we did in the Cahill deal, bailing them out of their stupidity like the Padres did us, does not bode well for the future.

How is so many decent to very good players become near worthless after signing the huge contract?

No motivation?

Having a good laugh on on the hard working MLB fans in the stands?

One idea Wren was not totally wrong on was keeping guys we developed in the farm system like Freeman.

The Cahill deal, not to mention Markakis, makes me worry our new GMs have the same tendency to throw away money.

With the surgery happening preseason, a good negotiator gets a 2 or 3 year deal with lower money.

One year without power should have come, at minimum, at half price.

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

@JacketDetective  The long term signings of FF, Teheran, Simmons have been credited to Hart, not Wren.  Braves did get a possible excellent lh bp arm(AJ Minter) w/the draft pick acquired in the Cahill deal while they gave up no prospects of any value and spent  5.5. million of the cash saved in the BJ dump---money that they basically paid for Minter, who would have been selected higher in the draft without his TJ issue.

seminoleking
seminoleking

What makes matter WORST for the Padres is the fact that they don't AT LEAST get some value out of Melvin Upton by playing him every day. They not going anywhere, anyway, so might as well see what happens with that investment.

Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

@seminoleking

As I have mentioned before, MLB owners are fools not to have the same or similar contract structure the NFL has where a team can get out of a contract by not making an off-season payment. 

The NFL does pay up front money but at least when a player fails to produce, they are not stuck forever.

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

@JacketDetective @seminoleking  "MLB owners" "fools" or is the MLB Players Union too strong?  Agree that the NFL example would be better for MLB----getting the players union to agree to it is a different matter.  Only negotiating ploy that owners may have to offer is increase in roster size.  Don't think players would go for that----giving up their guaranteed money for extra MLB jobs. 

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

The trades seem to be good for the most part, even though the best results may not be seen for a year or two. The only one I hated to see go was Kimbrel, but it was an opportunity to good to pass up to get rid of BJ and his contract.

Bob_the_Blogger
Bob_the_Blogger

The Braves absolutely fleeced the Cardinals and Padres.  They now have years of control over prospects from the Padres' including No. 1 (Matt Wisler), No. 6 (Max Fried),  No. 10 (Jace Peterson),  No. 16 (Mallex Smith), and No. 21 (Dustin Peterson) while getting them to take Melvin Upton! Plus, the Braves have long term control over Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, whom they obtained from the Cards - for one year of Jason Heyward.  Lesson: If John Hart wants to trade with you - run for the door!  

RoseUp
RoseUp

Excellent article! After the J.D. Drew and Mark Teixeira deals, it's nice to be back on the winning side of a big trade again.

hipdawg
hipdawg

We have pitching prospects to help w/ trades, but what worries me is the Braves penchant for pinching a loaf on free agents.I mean their track record for free agents is horrible..Wisler looks like a keeper and Mayben is serviceable.Jace is struggling, but can improve.We still don't know about the rest.

BravesFanInNashville
BravesFanInNashville

@hipdawg Wilser is not a #4 or 5 Starter.  That kid is the real deal and Banuelos might turn out to be really good too.  The most expendable starter they have is Teheran.  Wood is next on that list but he's left handed so he could be a real help in the bullpen too.  If they had Wood, Folty and Vizcaino in the bullpen that could be a great start to rebuilding a strong pen.  We will get Shae Simmons back too. 

hipdawg
hipdawg

Don't have a cow but I believe every position player besides Freeman is expendable/ needs improvement.Freeman is the only World Series quality everyday player on the roster.As for the pitchers. S. Miller is the only A-1 ace and the rest are 4th and  5th rotation guys.So basically the Braves have alot of work to do if the goal is to win another World Series.

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

@hipdawg  The best defensive player in baseball--Simmons--- is far from expendable.  Those who argue that he doesn't hit enough should note that saving a run is as valuable as knocking one in.  Bet his pitchers and teammates know it---as well as Braves management.  They didn't sign him to that long term deal because they expect 30 homers or 100 rbi out of him.

hipdawg
hipdawg

@Nashville Jeff @hipdawg I knew that would come up and the braves have won w/ super weak hitting SS in the past, and if you are loaded w/ offensive fire power that is ok.But when I look at really good teams they have good hitting middle infielders.This comparison is for the team right now.I think Simmons should change something because it is painfully obvious he is not willing to make simple adjustments.If he is not falling over the plate while swinging ,he is pounding the ball into the ground in front of home plate.I guess I like offense first.He may well turn into a .290 

hitter and hit 20 hr but.......I still hope that can happen.  

Can'o'corn
Can'o'corn

neither one are winning anything anytime soon,  so i would say it's a push.  wait we may win best minor league system in the galaxy, i think you get a belly chain and an ice cream sandwich for that........

BravesFanInNashville
BravesFanInNashville

@Decaturian It's nowhere near a push.  San Diego is stuck with all of BJ Upton's contract and they lost several of their best young kids including their best Right and Left Handed starting pitchers.  Wilser and Fried are going to come back to haunt them like Wainwright has the Braves. 

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Hey. We could win the NL East with those three. Let's give em half the farm back.

AtlantaSportsVictory
AtlantaSportsVictory

I much rather be in the Braves position than the Padres. That being said, if we don't convert these prospects into legit players, then it isn't going to matter much. 

SeanLB
SeanLB

@AtlantaSportsVictory There is always the risk with prospects, so you're right on the money there.  However, it's a numbers game.  We have so many prospects through these deals, I'm confident a couple will work out.  

SeanLB
SeanLB

@DawgDadII @SeanLB @AtlantaSportsVictory No, but we didn't have "a couple" before the moves either.  That's the point...at worst, we break even.  The "superstars" we usually have are only superstars to Atlanta fans.  Other enthusiasts around the league scoff at Teheran being an "ace" or JHey being "an MVP candidate".


I'd rather have new blood than retain the old blood that obviously couldn't get it done.  

freezboy
freezboy

Hard to say...but yes....a fleece is the best word here....I wish Nick Esasky had worked out 

SouthGeorgiaStrong
SouthGeorgiaStrong

Braves play exciting team ball, and are competitive, Future looks good. Love the speed and young arms. I have watched them more this year than last year, but it has been 100 degree weather outside.

Hammerman
Hammerman

Doesn't matter if it's O'B,Schultz,or Bradley,the AJC can spin propaganda that would make Josef Goebbels blush.The bigger the lie the more people that will believe it,or it's easier to deceive people than to convince them they are being deceived.This team is so far away from legitimacy its laughable.They payroll needs to be doubled and it won't.And as far as all these prospects are concerned,Peraza the #1 guy on the farm going to be block by the AAAA .245 hitting Peterson,that's all you need to know.Nice try Bradley.

Hammerman
Hammerman

You are right,in the big picture this means nothing.My point was these hacks have never met a move the didn't agree with.

alexander2
alexander2

@Hammerman .."Goebbels blush"..serious, this is baseball, a game of little significance...REALLY ??

afx
afx

@Hammerman  totally agree, let me add only Braves team with limited payroll everything should work perfect with no mistake for short turnaround, otherwise remember KC, Pirates, Astros, it takes from 15 years and up to be contender. big spenders like NY, LA, so on, always can brush out mistakes with splash of cash. Braves in different category. it could take life time for a lot of people not even thinking right now for dating with god. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Its not about this season. We all knew 2015 would not be pretty. Seven years of Frank Wren had to be cleaned-up. Things will get better.

SeanLB
SeanLB

@SaveAmericaFromItself Unloading BJ was huge.  Hart cleaned up the mess and honestly, left us in a better position than I had even hoped for after a single offseason.  Anyone who doesn't see that doesn't understand baseball...

58Supersports
58Supersports

Liked all Hart's moves except keeping fredi...that made me throw up!

We looking good right now, just lost 6 of last 7 games.

Give fredi another contract and raise..

mark513
mark513

It had to be done with Kimbrel, Upton and Heyward on this years team we might be .500 or a little better but no real chance to win in the playoffs. I would like to see some of the young talent be brought up over the next 60 plus games. Lets find out what we have going into next off-season. If we finish at .500 or within a game or two then maybe we spend a little money next year and go get some power? Either way we build toward next year and all the young guys get playing time. Also keep selling, by getting done our goals before the season we hold all the cards and are not looking to shed payroll, so if some team is eager enough to give up an everyday 3rd baseman prospect ot outfield then sell, sell, sell!

JackClemens
JackClemens

Hated the Kimbrel move at the time, but I think Hart is positioning the Braves to be good again, and possibly for an extended stretch.