The Atlanta Braves completed the required weekly offseason trade today, as they sent center fielder Cameron Maybin to the Detroit Tigers for left-handed relievers Ian Krol and Gabe Speier. It looks like the Braves will also send about $1.5 million to the Tigers, which means that Atlanta will save around $6.5 million this year.
The money is a large factor for this trade, but there was also a need to move at least one of the Braves many outfielders. Michael Bourn now becomes the presumptive starting center fielder next year, with rookie Mallex Smith likely supplanting him at some point during the season.
Ian Krol was once a top-100 prospect in baseball in 2011, but he fell to the bullpen and has strangely gotten worse each year. He started his MLB career in Washington, but was sent to Detroit as part of the Doug Fister trade. There could be something to be said for a bit of misuse in Detroit, or some lack of proper coach to help Krol out. He used to be a pitchability guy, but his velocity has gotten better, though this year his control seemed to suffer because of it. He’s still fairly young and next year will be his age-25 season. There’s a “rose colored glasses” case to be made for Krol improving in 2016, but there’s also a case to be made that pitchers like this can be found all over the waiver wire for nothing.
Gabe Speier is somewhat of a prospect. A late-round find by the Tigers in 2013, Speier had Tommy John surgery later that year. His innings have been limited since then so he’s got a low-mileage arm, though his velocity has been inconsistent from one outing to the next. He’s got some good upside as a reliever. Even though, the Braves may put him back in the rotation for a while to make up for lost time, but he currently isn’t a top-30 prospect, just an arm with a tad bit of promise.
Over on the public relations side, the Braves front office and especially new GM John Coppolella, have some work to do on their interviewing skills. This tweet from the other day sets the stage:
#Braves Coppy: "I think you saw last year, if it’s the right price we’ll trade just about anybody.But we aren’t looking to trade Cam Maybin”
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) November 10, 2015
That’s from 11 days ago, and it certainly seems like complete bonk because they clearly just trade Cameron Maybin (and the price seemed… low). Maybe they weren’t “looking” to trade him, but they certainly took whatever middling offer came their way.
The Braves really missed the boat when they failed to trade Maybin at this year’s deadline.
1st Half: .289/.356/.418 — .774 OPS
2nd Half: .240/.289/.311 — .600 OPS
With the great first half that Maybin had, his value was much higher than when the Braves acquired him, but despite some offers, the team failed to move him. Cameron’s second half returned his trade value to what you see today.
Nevertheless, a decent trade by the Braves to save money, clear an outfield spot, and acquire a couple of potentially useful arms. Several things accomplished in one deal. Next.