SEE ALSO: Braves Look To Past For Way Forward
SEE ALSO: How Farm System Was Rebuilt In 18 Months
SEE ALSO: Shortstop Dilemma
In 2014, the Braves had outfielders Jason Heyward and Justin Upton with one year remaining in each player’s contract and righthander Craig Kimbrel with two years remaining before free agency. In the span of six months, the Braves traded away all three. The moves were understandably controversial in Atlanta as fans saw three of the team’s four biggest stars traded away in one offseason.
Here’s what the Braves’ rebuild netted in those trades.
Dec. 19, 2014: Braves trade Upton to Padres with minor league righthander Aaron Northcraft for minor league lefthander Max Fried, minor league outfielder Mallex Smith, minor league outfielder Dustin Peterson and second baseman Jace Peterson (free agent in 2021).
April 5, 2015: Braves trade righthander Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton to Padres for outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, minor league righthander Matt Wisler, minor league outfielder Jordan Paroubeck and the Padres’ competitive balance pick. Paroubeck was later traded along with Caleb Dirks to the Dodgers in a deal for $249,000 of international bonus slot allotment.
Dec. 9, 2015: Braves trade Shelby Miller to Diamondbacks with minor league righthander Gabe Speier (acquired in Maybin trade) for outfielder Ender Inciarte (free agent in 2021), minor league righthander Aaron Blair and minor league shortstop Dansby Swanson.
So by trading one year of Heyward, one year of Upton and two years of Kimbrel (as well as Walden, the large contract of Melvin Upton and Aaron Northcraft), the Braves have received back five of the team’s Top 10 prospects: Swanson (No. 1) , Blair (No. 3), Austin Riley (No. 8, drafted with the Padres’ competitive balance pick), Fried (No. 9), Smith (No. 10) as well as Jenkins (No. 16) and Peterson (No. 22).
Atlanta also received a portion of $249,000 in international bonus allotment, lefthander Krol, Wisler, who would have ranked No. 1 on the Braves’ Top 30 last year if his trade had happened earlier and is now in the Braves’ rotation, and Peterson, who would have ranked seventh on last year’s Braves list and is now the Braves’ second baseman.
Those three trades went a long way toward rebuilding the Braves’ farm system. We won’t find out how well it pays off for Atlanta for years, but it has been a massive talent haul.
“The hardest part for us is when you trade away Jason Heyward or Justin Upton, you know you’re going to take a little bit of a hit. We want to put a winning product on the field for Braves fans,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “There’s a good reason fans aren’t happy when you trade away their favorite players. But we have to take a long view. We took a short view for too long. That put us in the spot at the end of 2014 where we had no talent, no money and no hope.”