After days of rumors that the Atlanta Braves were looking to make a deal, they finally struck. According to multiple reports, they traded Andrelton Simmons and minor leaguer Jose Briceno to the Los Angeles Angels for Erick Aybar, pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis, and $3 million cash.
At first glance, trading Simmons away is a strange move. He just won the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award and is indisputably one of, if not the, best fielders in baseball. Depending upon exactly which metric you use, Simmons is worth three to four wins a year just because of his glove. If he can hit even a little bit, he’s one of the top shortstops in the sport.
The peripherals are good too. He just turned 26, and the Braves had him under contract for five more years at $53 million, a relatively team-friendly deal. He is entering his prime on the cusp of being a great player, with the salary of only a good player. Ken Rosenthal wrote a column just this morning imploring the Braves not to get rid of Simmons. So why are they?
According to the New York Post, the Braves believe that Simmons’s offense has regressed, and will continue to do so. It is also possible, with defensive stats still so imperfect, that the Braves believe they overrate his ability.
Another big component, of course, is what the Braves got in return for Simmons, and it’s a pretty decent haul. Aybar was an All-Star last season and is a perfectly capable shortstop, with just one year and $8.5 million left on his contract. Sean Newcomb was the jewel of the Angels’ farm system, a left-handed starting pitcher who threw more than a strikeout an inning in A and AA ball. Chris Ellis is a lanky right-hander who, while he doesn’t have Newcomb’s potential, looks like he’ll slot in as a middle-to-back of the rotation starter in a couple of years. And three million dollars is three million dollars.
After getting boxed out of the playoffs by the Rangers and Astros, the Angels are going for it. They already had one of the least talented farm systems in baseball, and now it is absolutely barren. Simmons isn’t a rental, though, and should be a quality starter for years to come.
As for the Braves, it looks like they’re going into full rebuild mode. They traded away Jason Heyward at this time last year, Craig Kimbrel right before the season started, and now Simmons. Their roster has very little bite, and it’ll be a couple more years fighting with the Phillies to avoid the basement in the NL East.
Photo via Getty