The Andrelton Trade
New Angels GM Billy Eppler seemed to have the desire to make a splash and so, off he went. Welcome to the Angels, Andrelton Simmons.
The Braves’ President and GM team of John Hart and John Coppolella have been tearing the team to the ground. But it wasn’t expected that Andrelton was on his way out. Well, why would that be expected? A young, controllable shortstop considered the best defender in the game on the move? Not to mention a fan favourite and a building block for the Braves. Concerns were there for the front office, though. Reports noted their worries about Simmons’ bat, which hadn’t been good in the 2015 season. The power that was there in 2013 (and pretty much absent the last two seasons) was just one concern. The low triple slash line was another. Here’s his Baseball Reference page for guess what: reference! They didn’t want to deal with the more expensive end of that contract, especially if Simmons became strictly a glove-only shortstop. (Mind you, that glove is the best glove in the game, but oh well)
Eppler’s return is a force to be reckoned with, though, which must’ve had something to do with the Braves’ choice to trade him. Sure, Erick Aybar is a defensive minus (-3 DRS) and not in the prime of his career, but the return gets really nice when you get to the prospects.
Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis were considered the best (and practically only) assets in a basically barren farm system. They are two really good young arms in an age of pitching. Newcomb, ranked as the #19 big league prospect by MLB.com, posted a 2.85 ERA over 3 minor league levels in his first full pro season. He struck out 11 per 9 innings but needs to work on refining the control in order to reach the high ceiling as he walked over 5 per 9 innings as well. Ellis, MLB.com’s Angels #2 prospect, put up strong numbers as well and has the stuff to be a good big leaguer. Just as I said with Newcomb, there’s a lingering control issue.
Each team is getting the pieces that they want. The Braves would rather Newcomb and Ellis to Simmons at this point and vice versa. So why is this as perplexing as it is? Because frankly, the Angels had bigger holes to fill and the Braves had what every team in baseball dreams of having.
The Angels in left field aren’t the hottest, their 3B is a free agent and they need lefty bats to balance out their big guns in the middle: Pujols and Trout. And sure, it’s not every day you can go out and get a shortstop like Andrelton Simmons.
However, the glove fits, regardless of anything I can say otherwise. This has strong similarities to the Tulo trade. Declining shortstop + top prospects for younger shortstop. It’s not on the level of that Tulowitzki trade because of the money factor (much cheaper than Tulo/Reyes) and the age factor. 32 year old Jose Reyes and 30 year old Troy Tulowitzki don’t really compare to 31 year old Aybar and 26 year old Simmons.
However, where it best compares in its logic. Upgrading where you don’t need to is still useful. And it’s what the Jays thought with Tulo and the Angels are thinking here. You can read more about that here.
So, going from a –3 in Defensive Runs Saved to a +25 is something big. The prospects are something, they always are. But they might not be what we make them out to be. I love prospects and the idea of player development. But don’t sit around, romanticizing about what they will be when making trades like this one forever. They want the Andrelton they know they can get. Strong defense, iffy bat (which could improve). Getting that defense is a huge win.
I like the Braves end, too. There are good near-MLB ready arms in there pilfered by the Braves. Let’s also not act like we know what they’ll become. We know what they can become. If the Braves can get half of that out of these two pitchers, we’ll see a trade worth making for both teams.