The Braves signed James Loney in the wake of the loss of star first baseman Freddie Freeman for 10 weeks with a fractured left wrist, but they clearly felt they needed more. So on Saturday they swung a trade with the Cardinals for displaced first baseman Matt Adams, who has a career .453 slugging percentage in the majors.
Adams, who was coming off the bench in St. Louis after Matt Carpenter was named the starter at first, is expected to get the majority of at-bats in Atlanta. The Braves sent 19-year-old third baseman Juan Yepez, who’s hitting .275/.309/.387 at low Class A Rome, to St. Louis. The Braves also received an undisclosed amount of cash to offset Adams’ contract. He is earning $2.8 million this year with one more year of arbitration to come.
Juan Yepez, 3b
The Braves signed Yepez as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela in July 2014. Yepez’s carrying tool is above-average raw power but it has yet to manifest itself in games and injuries have slowed his progress somewhat. In parts of three seasons, he has hit .281/.335/.407. He has shown the ability to stay at third base with enough arm to play the position after scouts questioned whether he’d have to move to first. He will report to the Cardinals’ low Class A affiliate in Peoria.
Matt Adams, 1b
Adams has huge shoes to fill in replacing Freeman, who was leading the NL with 14 homers. But Adams has shown himself to be a productive player, and just last season slugged .471 in a part-time role. Adams started 132 games for the Cardinals in 2014, but his struggles against lefthanders—.210/.240/.348—have relegated him to platoon status the past two seasons and then he lost the first base job outright to Carpenter this spring.
The Cardinals experimented with Adams in left field, but abandoned that after just five shaky games and he’s been strictly a pinch-hitter in his past eight appearances. Despite his burly appearance, Adams is surprisingly adept at first base, with a 4.6 career ultimate zone rating.
Braves general manager John Coppolella told reporters Adams is expected to fly to Atlanta on Sunday and join the team in time for Sunday’s game.
“We hate to trade prospects, but this is something for our players, for our fans,” Coppolella told reporters. “I think that our ownership really stepped forward here to take on money and give up a really good player. We are trying to win right now. We’ve played really good the past two weeks. We feel like we have a chance to win each night, and this will help make us better.”
Adams is arbitration-eligible in 2018 and could be a bench piece for the Braves if they decide to tender him a contract.