(Update: Just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Braves indeed traded Andrelton Simmons to the Angels. For more prospects.)
Jonah Keri of what used to be Grantland tweeted last night that the Atlanta Braves were discussing a trade with a National League West team. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports subsequently reported that the NL West team in question is San Diego.
This should surprise no one who has followed the Braves over the past 12 months. Under John Hart and especially John Coppolella, they’re open to trading anybody. That’s not to say they’re determined to rid themselves of Simmons. They value him hugely. Talks regarding the great defender would be a seller’s market. The Braves wouldn’t move him unless they receive a blow-us-away offer. Which they might.
More intriguing is the word that the Padres are again involved. You’d have thought that San Diego’s A.J. Preller would have learned his lesson after making not one but two massive trades with Hart/Coppolella last offseason, neither of which worked to the Padres’ advantage. The first involved Justin Upton; the second involved Craig Kimbrel and the other Upton.
The Braves wound up with Jace Peterson, Cameron Maybin, Matt Wisler, Max Fried, Dustin Peterson, Mallex Smith and the draft pick that would become Austin Riley, already considered the best young bat in the Braves’ chain. With those two trades, the Braves restocked their farm system and found big-league two starters (J. Peterson and Maybin) to boot. The Padres wound up with a bloated payroll and a team that went 74-88, and now J. Upton is a free agent.
If you’re the Padres, do you really want to trade with the Braves again? (Read Rany Jazayerli’s Grantland story “The Teardown Artist” for a searing take on how Preller’s deals gutted his team.) The primary beneficiary of such largesse was the Braves. Those trades were so lopsided that Hart/Coppolella might have poisoned the well.
Making trades in baseball is a tricky thing. You want to get back more than you give, sure, but you don’t want to embarrass the other guy because you might need him again. Already Hart/Coppolella have fleeced Preller and Arizona’s Dave Stewart, who was lampooned for dealing the prospect Touki Toussaint for the utility infielder Phil Gosselin and cash. The Braves don’t need to keep winning every trade 80-20. In the interest of future business, they’d settle for winning a few 55-45.
As for Simmons: I don’t know that this trade will happen with anybody, least of all the Padres. But I do know this: We shouldn’t be shocked if it does. The Braves like Simmons, but they like Ozzie Albies, too.