Why It Was The Time For The Braves To Trade Craig Kimbrel

Three years have passed since the Atlanta Braves last saw postseason action. They lost their wild card at the hand of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. It’s been 16 years since the Braves completed their most recent World Series appearance (0-4) in the Bronx Bombers’ dustpan. The 2014 offseason set the scene for rebuilding and an opening night blockbuster was the final act.

The Braves front office managed to dump salt into the nearly closed wounds of fans after losing Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis. Now fans have to cope with losing the Upton they wanted gone in the first place, and their true favorite: Craig Kimbrel. Braves fans aren’t too happy with the decision but it’s time to face the facts: just because you love him doesn’t mean you need him.

Player-Fan relationships are tough, am I right? Especially when the big man interferes. How dare the front office trade the fan favorite? Sometimes, the fan favorite isn’t really needed anymore. This is one of those times.

To expect a winning season this year would be foolish. The Braves are projected to lose 90 games and there’s no room for the luxury of arguably the league’s best closer in a 90 loss season. Especially with Kimbrel’s value at this point in time, and especially when there’s $46 million owed in the next four years. The ultimate gag was that John Hart insisted on not shopping Kimbrel during the offseason – so he traded him opening night.

The best part of the deal goes to Atlanta for finally ridding themselves of (B.J.) Melvin Upton Jr. and the three years left on his contract. The San Diego Padres are looking for their first postseason appearance since 2006 and if having to take Upton gets them there, why not have both?

Here’s what the Braves lost in the trade:

  • A National League save leader and a four-time all-star with a career 1.43 ERA.
  • Holder of a .196 batting average in 2 years at Turner Field and decent defensive play

And here’s what they gained:

  • Cameron Maybin, a likely semi-regular starter in centerfield, switching out with Eric Young Jr.
  • Carlos Quentin, who the Braves have already designated for assignment, since he truly belongs somewhere in the American League.
  • Matt Wisler, the Padres top prospect and Baseball America’s 34th overall, who was 10-5 between Triple and Double A last year with a 4.42 ERA. Here’s what Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs had to say about Wisler:

    Wisler works 91-94, touching 95 mph with sink and commands the pitch to both sides of the plate. His two-plane slider is plus, his changeup is above average at times and he also works in a fringy curveball. Scouts rave about his makeup and strike throwing abilities, though his command isn’t quite big league ready, as he ran into trouble in the hitter-friendly PCL leaving the ball up the zone. Some scouts think his build is too slight and that he won’t be able to hold up for 200 innings, with a couple suggested he may end up as a late-inning reliever. The consensus is that he should be able to handle 180 innings as a third or fourth starter.

  • Jordan Paroubeck is a 19-year-old who just completed a season in Rookie league with a .286/.346/.457 line. The second round draftee trains in the offseason with Barry Bonds. He’s recovering his throwing power after an injury in summer 2013 but is quick supplies some raw power at the plate.
  • The 41st pick in this year’s draft (to add to picks 14, 28 and 54).
  • Freed up $65 million in salary obligations

John Hart managed to do all of the above in a single move. The Braves have completely rebuilt and will continue to do so with their boatload of “kids of the future”. Playoff contention may not be in the near future but rest assured, the future looks a lot brighter for Braves fans than it did September 22, 2014.

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