Braves Bring In Jaime Garcia From Cardinals


Having already acquired quadragenarian righthanders Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, the Braves went for another veteran arm on Thursday in lefthander Jaime Garcia, sending three players to the Cardinals.

The Cardinals picked up the $12 million option on Garcia, 30, and are able obtain three young players for him: righthanders Chris Ellis and John Gant, and infielder Luke Dykstra.

Jaime Garcia, lhp
Age: 30

Garcia is coming off a down year in 2016. In his eighth major league season, Garcia posted an uninspiring 4.67 ERA while walking three and striking out 7.9 batters per nine innings. While his overall performance was down, he did show flashes of brilliance, going eight or more innings on four occasions and posting a 97 game score in a one-hit shutout in his second start of the season. Garcia further bolsters the growing veteran presence of Atlanta’s rotation; the Braves have already acquired Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey as free agents this offseason. Garcia is entering his age-30 season in 2017, and he’ll look to return to the production of his mid-20s. If he can bounce back, Garcia could serve as a viable, back-of-the-rotation piece for the Braves.

— Hudson Belinsky

St. Louis (MAJ) 10 13 4.67  32 30 171.2 179  26 57 150 .264

Luke Dykstra, 2b
Age: 21

Dykstra, the son of long-time Mets and Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra, is a contact-oriented second baseman. He doesn’t strike out and he doesn’t walk, as he puts the bat on the ball at-bat after at-bat. He can square up fastballs with the best of them, but he doesn’t do a whole lot when he squares up a pitch thanks to his very limited power. Dykstra has a potentially plus hit tool thanks to his contact skills and all-field approach but with near bottom-of-the-scale power (he’s hit zero home runs the past two seasons). A high school shortstop, Dykstra is an improving second baseman but he still has work to do.

— J.J. Cooper

Rome (LoA) .304 .332  .363  322 32 98 17 1 0 41 6  31 7

Chris Ellis, rhp
Age: 24

Chris Ellis joined the Braves as an additional piece in the 2015 trade that sent Andrelton Simmons to the Angels. His four-pitch mix enabled him to earn a midseason promotion to Triple-A in 2016, though his performance didn’t match his upside at that level; he posted a 6.52 ERA across 15 starts. Ellis throws his fastball at 89-94 mph and has reached 95, though he typically pitches at 90-92. His slider works at 82-84 and shows vertical snapping action. Ellis shows occasional feel for his changeup and also throws a deeper 11-to-5 curveball in the mid-70s. In Triple-A, Ellis showed a tendency to break his hands early and rush his delivery, which gave him trouble repeating his fastball release point and put him in hitters’ counts early. If the Cardinals are able to help him correct those issues, Ellis could develop into a serviceable back-of-the-rotation starter, though his significant struggles in Triple-A are a red flag.

— Hudson Belinsky

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
Mississippi (SL) AA 8 2 2.75 13 13 0 79 54 24 24 2 35 61 .201
Gwinnett (IL) AAA 4 7 6.52 15 15 2 68 68 50 49 4 52 65 .269
Salt River (AFL) WIN 1 1 5.03 6 6 0 20 19 14 11 1 12 17 .257

John Gant, rhp
Age: 24

Gant came to the Braves along with righthander Rob Whalen in the 2015 trade that sent Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets. Now both have been traded this week (Whalen went to Seattle in a trade for outfielder Alex Jackson). Gant slid between Triple-A and Atlanta and between starting and relieving in 2016. He missed some time with a strained oblique. Gant’s changeup has generally been his best pitch. It’s an above-average offering, and he has a chance to start thanks to his improved curveball and average fastball. Gant’s delivery can best be described as odd. It often includes an additional toe tap/step with his front leg at the start of his delivery before he actually begins his weight transfer to load over the rubber. Ideally, it can affect a hitter’s timing, but it also has helped explain why Gant has struggled with his control at times. Gant is big league ready and he’s much more durable than Garcia, but he lacks Garcia’s front-of-rotation potential. Gant projects as a back-end starter/reliever.

— J.J. Cooper

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
Rome (SAL) LoA 0 0 0.00 1 0 3 1 0 0 0 1 2 .111
Gwinnett (IL) AAA 3 3 4.18 12 10 56 58 29 26 5 22 57 .262
Atlanta (NL) MAJ 1 4 4.86 20 7 50 54 32 27 7 21 49 .278

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