If I’d had to pick the Atlanta Brave most apt to be traded this offseason, it would have been the guy who just got traded. Cameron Maybin was dealt to the Detroit Tigers, the team that drafted him with the 10th pick in Round 1 in 2005, for …
Do I even need to say it?
Two young pitchers.
Both are left-handed, and that’s about the best you can say for either.
Ian Krol bounced between Detroit and Class AAA Toledo last season. In the majors, he had a 5.79 ERA and 1.714 WHIP (walks/hits per inning pitched); he walked 17 in 28 innings. All of the above are terrible stats for any pitcher and worse for a reliever, which Krol is. Gabe Speier, also a reliever, spent last season in Class A.
Krol is 24; this marks the third time he has been traded. Speier is 20; this marks the second time for him. Neither will rank among the Braves’ best dozen pitchers under 25. Neither is a guarantee to be here long.
So why make this trade? Because Maybin is 28 and coming off one of his better big-league seasons, though that’s not to say he was anything special. He hit .267 with 10 homers and 59 RBIs. He’s not a great defender, and he plays center field, where you’d like to have a good defender. (Then again, didn’t the Braves just trade the best defender in baseball?)
Maybin had a WAR value of 0.6 last season. By way of contrast, fan favorite Melvin Upton Jr. had a WAR value of 1.6 for San Diego, and he played in barely half the Padres’ games. You might recall that the Braves gave Craig Kimbrel to San Diego — Maybin was part of that deal, though not the biggest part — to make M-Up Jr. disappear because the latter was owed a lot of money. Maybin is owed $8 million next season, which is way less than Upton money but still a lot for a replacement-level CF. That’s why you make this trade.
I thought the Braves might get a bit more than Krol and Speier for Maybin, but they did say they wanted to improve their bullpen. Krol might be of some help there. (Though not with a 1.714 WHIP.) And let’s face it: Maybin held down center field here for a year, but nobody in baseball sees him as anything more than just another guy.
As for who’ll hold down center field next year … you got me. MLB.com rates Mallex Smith as only the Braves’ 15th-best prospect. (Braxton Davidson, who’s No. 11, and Dustin Peterson, who’s No. 17, are seen as corner outfielders.) Michael Bourn has next to nothing left. There have to be more trades coming.
But that’s the thing about these Braves. There’s always another trade coming. At some point there’ll be one wherein they give some of these young pitchers to get some everyday players. Won’t there?
From earlier today: Would the Braves trade Shelby Miller? Yes, if …
Further reading: Memo to Coppolella: Don’t vent.
Still further: The Braves can’t afford to trade Freeman.
Further still: Would the Braves trade Freeman? No.
Even further: The Braves’ audacity inspires … well, awe.
And further: Would the Braves trade Simmons? Sure.