Ranking Braves offseason trades from best to worst

The Atlanta Braves 2014-15 offseason was a dizzying one. There was historical roster turnover thanks in large part to a dozen trades. It’s time to take a look at all of them, rank them, and assess the great ones through the bad ones.

For some of these trades my opinion of them has changed as the offseason has gone on. One reason for this has been the Braves near-complete dismantling of their bullpen — they traded seven relievers from last year’s pen.

Over the next few years I’m going to try and return to this list of trades and continue to reassess them. As prospects develop these trades may start to look better or worse.

Great trades:

1. Evan Gattis and James Hoyt traded to Astros for Mike Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz and Andrew Thurman (story)
This trade gets top billing for returning two top prospects, and possibly elite-level prospects, in Folty and Ruiz. Neither is without the need for refinement, but that is always the case when acquiring prospects. It was good to see the Braves go with quality over quantity in this swap.

2. Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton traded to Padres for Matt Wisler, Jordan Paroubeck, 41st draft pick, Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin (story)
This trade just barely misses the top spot, but does so because it includes some baggage in return. Like the Gattis deal, Atlanta gets two elite-level prospects in Wisler and whoever they select with the draft pick. Maybin could turn into a burdensome contract, though not as much as Upton would have been.

3. Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden traded to Cardinals for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins (story)
The first big trade of the offseason is still a really good one when compared against all the other deals made. Miller for Heyward is a good swap, seeing as how the Braves weren’t likely to re-sign the outfielder. Jenkins has good upside and could represent nice icing on the cake to this trade down the road.

Good trades:

4. Justin Upton and Aaron Northcraft traded to Padres for Jace Peterson, Max Fried, Mallex Smith and Dustin Peterson (story)
This trade falls down the rankings because of a lack of any (non-injured) elite prospect. They went with quantity over quality, and it has the possibility to be a great success or a big bust depending on how these guys develop.

5. Josh Elander and Victor Reyes traded to Diamondbacks for Trevor Cahill and 75th draft pick (story)
This was really two trades with the D-Backs, but it was supposed to one trade that took a bit longer to complete the final piece (I’ll count it as one). Atlanta swapped unneeded lower-level outfield prospects for the hope of rehabilitating Cahill and a nice draft pick. There is a lack of any immediate impact with this trade, but Cahill “could” turn it around, and the draft pick may prove a good one.

Average trades:

6. Tommy La Stella traded to Cubs for Arodys Vizcaino
La Stella was deemed unnecessary, but the return of Vizcaino was a little weak coming off of TJ surgery. For a solid hitter like La Stella, I feel like the Braves could have gotten a bit more, even if he was considered positionally challenged. Of course, they also got a large amount of international bonus pool money from the Cubs, which may have been the point of the trade to begin with.

7. Edward Salcedo traded to Pirates for Bryton Trepagnier
This one goes almost unnoticed, and it’s really quite inconsequential, so it kind of goes in the middle of the pack, being neither a good trade nor a bad trade.

Poor trades:

8. Kyle Kubitza and Nate Hyatt traded to Angels for Ricardo Sanchez (story)
The new Braves brass seemed to give up on Kubitza, dealing him for a promising, yet far away pitching prospect. Atlanta did accomplish its goal of acquiring potentially elite talent with this deal, but they may have given up a very good talent too.

9. David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve traded to Yankees for Manny Banuelos (story)
This is another trade for potentially elite talent, though it’s debatable if Man-Ban is that good anymore, since he is also somewhat damaged goods coming off of TJ surgery. This was yet another trade in which the Braves were giving away relievers left and right — a strange strategy.

Bad trades:

10. David Hale and Gus Schlosser traded to Rockies for Jose Briceno and Chris O’Dowd (story)
Here again the Braves are giving away relievers for very little in return. Briceno has some promise, but Hale had very good present value as a swing man. He pitched great in the rotation to start last year, then made a smooth and effective transition to the bullpen. Clearly their evaluation of him was different and less favorable.

11. Kyle Wren traded to Brewers for Zach Quintana
This was a minor trade, and its intent was clear — to put the former GM’s son in a new organization. As the first trade of the offseason, the Braves rushed this one and should have gotten more in return than a low-level pitcher with control problems.

12. Anthony Varvaro traded to Red Sox for Aaron Kurcz (story)
I still don’t get this trade, just like I didn’t get it at the time. Parting with Varvaro was completely unnecessary, and nothing but a marginal relief prospect came back in return. Atlanta could use Varvaro right now in the pen. If they really didn’t want him, then they should have waited to deal him at the end of spring when teams are scrambling for relievers and his value would be higher.

Post-script:

In evaluating these trades I didn’t think there would be such an even distribution of good, average and poor ones, but it worked out that way. The good news is that the high profile trades are the good or great ones, while the more inconsequential trades are the ones that fall at the bottom.

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