A terrible Braves trade, right? Not so fast, my friends

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Alex Wood throws to the Baltimore Orioles during an interleague baseball game, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Alex Wood throws to the Baltimore Orioles during an interleague baseball game, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Alex Wood in his final fling as an Atlanta Brave? (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

You might hate this trade. I understand if you do. I hope you’ll understand when I say: I happen not to hate it.

On its face, it appears lopsided. I’ll grant that. The Atlanta Braves are giving up a good young pitcher and the infielder rated their No. 1 prospect before the season, plus their latest closer and a fairly reliable left-handed reliever. They’re getting a 30-year-old third baseman who hasn’t yet played in the majors and has had injuries to boot.

The Braves are also receiving a couple of pitchers — the reliever Paco Rodriguez and the minor-leaguer Zachary Bird from the Dodgers — and, from Miami, the 34th pick in next year’s draft. But basically they’re sending a slew of guys to Los Angeles for Hector Olivera, the Cuban for whom the Braves were believed to have bid $40 million over the offseason.

(As of this posting, the trades hadn’t been announced by any of the teams. But early Thursday morning, a major league source told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that it would happen.)

The Braves’ offer to Olivera paled alongside L.A.’s winning bid of $62.5 million. The Dodgers have already paid $28 million as a signing bonus. That would leave the Braves on the hook for  $32.5 million over the next five seasons. That’s a lot of money. But this organization obviously liked Olivera, who becomes the most powerful hitter in the chain, enough to offer even more.

The subtext of this many-leveled transaction is that the Braves themselves mightn’t have valued some of their higher-profile talents as much as Braves fans believed. Jose Peraza was considered the prize of the Braves’ farm system before John Hart/John Coppolella took charge, but wasn’t it curious he was never promoted to the majors in this rebuilding year? Guys you’d never heard of were getting the call, but not Peraza.

Some of it was due to the early-season excellence of Jace Peterson at second base, but Peterson’s average has dipped to .244. Peraza was tried in center field at Gwinnett, but Cameron Maybin has been very good there for the parent club. Still, the Braves’ starting left fielder of late has been Eury Perez, and their starting third baseman — in the wake of last week’s trade of Juan Uribe — has been the just-promoted Adonis Garcia, who’s 30.

If the Braves really wanted Peraza in their big-league lineup, they could have made a place. They didn’t make a place. Peraza was hitting .295 in Class AAA, but his on-base percentage was .319. That’s not very good for a singles hitter. Is it possible that the Braves came to value Ozzie Albies, a singles-hitting middle infielder playing in Class A, more highly than their No. 1 prospect?

As for Alex Wood: He’s a good young pitcher on a team that’s building around young pitching. Why trade him? Surely because the Braves, in all their dealing for pitching over these past nine months, have come to regard other young pitchers as better. And maybe because the Braves, seeing Wood’s complicated delivery and knowing he had Tommy John surgery while at Georgia, weren’t certain he’s built to last.

Yes, the Braves have traded for pitchers — Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos, Chris Withrow, Max Fried, Arodys Vizcaino — who’ve had the surgery. Hart has conceded that deliveries aren’t necessarily a predictor of Tommy John. Still, Hart inherited a franchise that led all of baseball in TJ and saw two starting pitchers (Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy) undergo the procedure twice in four years. The new Braves have asked their medical staff and scouts to take a harder look at deliveries.

Check Brooks Baseball’s data for Wood. Note that his sinker — essentially his fastball — was thrown at an average of 92.52 mph in 2013, his rookie season. Note that it has been thrown at an average of 90.24 mph this season. That’s a 2.28 mph drop in velocity for a 24-year-old. Those who track pitchers’ injuries have a saying: When you see a loss of velocity, it’s usually the elbow. Sore elbows can lead to Tommy John, a second round of which is invariably a de facto sentence to the bullpen.

This isn’t to say Alex Wood won’t have 10 more splendid seasons as a starting pitcher and never pay another visit to Dr. James Andrews. But his strikeout rate has dipped from the 8.9 per nine innings of his first two seasons to 6.8 this year, and his WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched) has climbed from 1.142 last year to 1.408. Opponents hit .239 against him in 2014; they’ve hit .288 this season.

With his Bulldog background and his bulldog temperament, Wood was a fan favorite. Hart and Coppolella aren’t paid the big bucks to be fans. Their mission is to cast a cold eye on their team and scheme to make it better.

Come 2017, would Wood be one of the Braves’ five best starters? (There’s Shelby Miller and Matt Wisler and Julio Teheran, assuming he sorts himself out, and Mike Minor, assuming he gets healthy, and Foltynewicz and Banuelos and Fried and Williams Perez and Tyrell Jenkins. Further down the road, there’s Touki Toussaint and Kolby Allard.) If Hart and Coppolella could answer, “Maybe not,” isn’t now the time to sell high?

Reports of the trade left many Braves fans apoplectic on social media. The most common plaint: “Our No. 1 prospect and one of our best young pitchers for a 30-year-old?” But what if the Braves no longer view Peraza as their top prospect? What if they don’t project Wood as one of their best starting pitchers in 2017 or beyond? What if their scouting of Olivera reveals a talent of the sort this organization doesn’t possess — a difference-making big bopper? (That’s really the only way this makes sense.) Would the deal be worth doing then?

Hart has admitted that part of the reason he has been buying young pitching is that young pitching can be used to buy other things. Last week, when the Braves traded Uribe and Kelly Johnson to the Mets for two more young pitchers, some among you asked, “When are they going to get a hitter?” Apparently they just did.

I can see why a lot of folks would hate this trade. Me, I’m starting to believe these Braves actually know what they’re doing.

Reader Comments 2

511 comments
SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

Anyone know what the status of Olivera is?  Is he still sitting out due to the hamstring pull?

EricDye
EricDye

a great article! To one comment by Dotie@ Dodgers are always on top? Braves are always on the bottom. You need to go back and look at the standings since 1991....to @sea8491 John Schuerholz, enough already? What have you been smokin?



sea8491
sea8491

@EricDye  Reality is what I have been smoking.  Didn't good old John hire these clowns?

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

Bring Francoeur back to Atlanta!

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

There’s lots of “maybes” in life aren’t there? Maybe the  team John Hart hopes to  build in his image will be better than the major league roster he just destroyed.  And maybe it won’t.  I guess we can all hope  the Braves will one day be the ... 1995 Cleveland Indians or the Texas Rangers!  


I wonder who’s gonna be the next face of the franchise - the new Mister Brave, the unofficial honorific bestowed by the fans?  Chipper Jones surrendered the mantel with his retirement.  Before him I guess it was  shared among Glavine, Maddox and Smoltz - or maybe Bobby Cox.  Then Dale Murphy before that, and of course, Henry Aaron.


These Braves - these Liberty Media Braves?  The fans will never have the chance to find a new face of the franchise.  Anybody who’s any good will be traded for prospects.  


Maybe John Hart is the face of the franchise.  John Hart - a vainglorious old coot who built teams not a great deal better than the one he just dismantled.  Instead of jerseys, they can sell pocket hankies at the merchandise shop.

parrotheadbravesfan
parrotheadbravesfan

@CardiganBoy  Hart did not destroy the Braves "major league roster." Blame that on Frank Wren! If you listen to many of MLB experts, they all agree that Hart did what needed to be done. Many of the shortcomings now are a direct result of what Wren did. Our farm system which was at the bottom of MLB is now top 10. Money woes are gone for now. Was not wild about every transaction but I feel a whole lot better about this team than this time last year.

sea8491
sea8491

Braves fans, here is the bottom line or shall we say the Top Lines?


Liberty Media, poor owners?

John Schuerholz,, enough already?


Any more comments/facts needed to explain present situation?

Dottie
Dottie

The Dodgers know how to cut their losses (Olivera) whereas the Braves don't (Uggla, Melvin, Chris Johnson). That's why the Dodgers are always at the top and the Braves haven't been for a long time and won't be anytime soon.

reckingball
reckingball

@Dottie They dumped BJ's salary on the Padres, in case you missed it. The Dodgers paid $28million of Olivera's pay.. The Dodgers have what seems to be unlimited $$$$money, That's why they are on top. I don't think they have won a WS lately, have they?

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@reckingball @Dottie You forgot to mention that we had to give up another talented pitcher to get rid of BJ.  If they were going to trade Kimbrell, they should have gotten talented players in exchange for him, and moved BJ to ballboy.  

reckingball
reckingball

@SupremeGrandPoobah @reckingball @Dottie

Who gives a flying rat's patootie, what they do with BJ, he's gone thanks to the Kimbrel trade, and they did get talented players in exchange for Kimbrel. Not to mention the money they now have in the bank, from the salary dump in the trade. 

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

@Dottie Dodgers haven't been too or won the WS since 1988. So instead of talking out your butt,  please don't insult the intelligence of knowledgeable baseball fans.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@reckingball @SupremeGrandPoobah @Dottie Debatable statement that we received talented players.  The money Liberty saved will never make its way back into the roster,  None of the savings have done so thus far, and there is no reason to expect the future to be any different.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@reckingball @SupremeGrandPoobah @Dottie It would have helped the team to get some talented position players.  I would rather have players that could help now.  BJ could have held down the bench, but at least we would have gotten true value for Kimbrell. (As opposed to the only so-called positive impact of getting rid of BJ's contract.)

reckingball
reckingball

@SupremeGrandPoobah @reckingball @Dottie You are obviously are just trolling for an argument. You lost any credibility that you might of had with that last comment.

You would keep BJ Upton and pay him $45million to sit on the bench for 3 years?

tennDAWG
tennDAWG

I've been a faithful follower of the Braves since the start of the Superstaion,I remember countless nights staying up with my mother till one or two in the morning on school and work nights (because they played in the West division,go figure) some of the best memories of my life even though the Braves were on the short end mostly.Even named my son after a Brave (Brett Butler) still one of the worst trades ever .The strike only made me want more,and when Skip and Ernie passed,a piece of me passed with them.I'm not sure how much more I can take,but I know I'm close to the limit. God Bless America's Team.

MarkAgain
MarkAgain

Amazing to me that anybody shows up to watch this team and support what the organization has done.

Maybe a fan boycott is needed. Nobody show up

MarkAgain
MarkAgain

I only flip over to see how bad it is occasionally. Pretty bad tonight.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

It is sad when the Braves highlights of the game come from the pitching from our farm system.  This team is probably the worst team I've seem since 1988 and that was a bad team.

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

The Braves had some fight in them before John Hart's incessant trading destroyed it.

freezboy
freezboy

Remember this...when unhappy....everyone came out of these trades feeling like a success....at least the one's that count did...so in 10 days the evidence will be presented...

RangeRover
RangeRover

I'm beginning to think Hart is simply addicted to trading (aka: gambling) with little regard to outcome; he's addicted to the thrill of the trade.

Yet, he still employs a puppet for a manager in whom garners zero respect throughout the majors as a savvy sort with even a smidgen of foresight or anticipation.

Are we witnessing senility at the top with Hart and Schuerholz?

freezboy
freezboy

@RangeRover I'd give a tad more sincerity than you implied...your comment is still 95% accurate...

STHornet1990
STHornet1990

@RangeRover  He's doing Liberty M's bidding. Dump salary, dump salary, dump salry. Make us some money!!!!!!!!



freezboy
freezboy

This was a good blog to post at....I say Hart doing just fine ...in 10 days we will see Olivera till the end of season....Peraza going to the farm....we need that power bat...we got nothing in our system like it....I think good hard nosed baseball is coming.....

TomGaff
TomGaff

My opinion, Mr Hart & associates, you have taken a competitive, fun team to watch at start of season and turned the Braves into an undermanned, under-talented by MLB standards team,which is the underdog, no matter who they play that day. I know some HS teams that could probably give them a good game. You have ruined the Braves for the next 5-10 years, no wonder Cleveland booted you out of town? Thank god, football(HS, college, pro) is here now, almost! You will finish dead last in the standings this season, as Philly is now beating you like a drum, Go Frenchy, kick some butt while they are down!!

freezboy
freezboy

@TomGaff Notice Frenchy didn't get moved...trust this...Philly not building around Frenchy

TomGaff
TomGaff

@freezboy @TomGaff Yes, thank you for the info. But he is hitting .270(better than most all Braves) has several walk off winning HRS & RBI's and has thrown out runners trying to score from 3rdB to home plate! We have not, to my knowledge, thrown out a runner at the plate on a attempted sacrifice fly situation? He's 30/31 years old, of course they are not building around him but he has apparently found himself after a season in the minors? Good for him and the good season he is having! Good for Gattis, JHeyward, McCann, Kimbrel, J Upton(Not that BJ fellow), and even the two we gave away to NY Mets!!! One of the above mentioned players will be on the winning team in the WS!!! Braves are a bad team and will be one for the next 5-10 years, thanks Mr Hart(one year GM guy)! I would almost bet my house, we will finish dead last about 15-20 games behind the leader(either Washington or the NY Mets)!!

reckingball
reckingball

@TomGaff "5-10 years",.........The Braves will most probably, be in the playoffs in 2016.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@freezboy @TomGaff Glavine, Smoltz and Maddox are not coming back, I stick with my original statement of 5-10 years!!

reckingball
reckingball

To look at this deal from the top, without all of the analyzation, it appears somewhat cattywampus.

It looks like the Braves are giving up a lot. It is a high stakes gamble, to be sure. I didn't mind losing any of the players involved, but it looked like too much put into the pot by the Braves.

If  Olivera can come over and give the Braves 3 or 4 good years like Hart and Co. anticipate, then it will have been a good trade, imho.

I hope that it works out for the Braves.

sea8491
sea8491

Mark Bradley, this move has the "illustrious" fingerprints of John Schuuerholz all over it.


When can John Schuerholz go into retirement?


What a fraud?

tennDAWG
tennDAWG

In a nutshell," It's a FREAKIN CLUSTER !!! "

LTJ11
LTJ11

Fun Braves fact for the day... 


On Aug 1, 1985 in front of  13,243 at Fulton Co stadium, the San Diego Padres beat the Atlanta Braves 6-0 dropping the team 12 games under .500 to 44-56.  Zane Smith took the  loss (6-8, 3.45 ERA)

DrTruth
DrTruth

@LTJ11 Well, I get it.  The current team is 46-57, a nearly identical record to the '85 team at this point of the season.  I can appreciate the comparison....

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

Too bad Shelby Miller can't pitch against the Braves.

He would be a lock for a complete game shutout with a pretty good shot at a no-hitter.

freezboy
freezboy

452 post...is that a record

reckingball
reckingball

@freezboy Is that how many posts that you have made here on this one particular rag?

58Supersports
58Supersports

End of 1st inning, Braves 0 and Phillies 4... game over as Braves hadn't score 4 runs in God knows when.... rebuilding !

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

I guess that Hart thinks that Ozzie Albies is a better long term player than Peraza and that Banuleos,Fried,Allard or Sanchez have more upside(or equal) than Wood as those 4 are all lefty's.Who knows?....................but one thing is for sure..........if Olivera craps out then Hart will be right alongside Wren when it comes time for the Blog- Bashers to vent!

alanl
alanl

One more thing...I am a lifelong Pirates fan and have lived in Atlanta for 20 years.  During those years the Pirates were terrible and I began to follow the Braves.  The Pirates are back.  They did what the Braves are doing 20 years ago and they lost for 17 straight years...are you ready for that?  They had bad ownership but I think the Braves have the worst ownership in the league.  What can be worse than a faceless corporate owner that has never been to a game and could care less whether the team wins or loses.  Without some players for Braves fans to attach to Sun Trust Park will look like a Thrashers game at Phillips...most of the fans will be rooting for the other team.

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