It’s officially December: The weather is getting colder, Christmas decorations are popping up everywhere, and the MLB hot stove is heating up. The Atlanta Braves, who are moving into the next phase of their rebuild as they gear up to open their new ballpark next season, have acquired left-handed starter Jaime Garcia from the St. Louis Cardinals, according to multiple reports. Three minor leaguers — John Gant, Luke Dykstra, and Chris Ellis — are headed to St. Louis in exchange for Garcia, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation:
Full deal, confirmed: Cardinals trade Jaime Garcia to Braves for John Gant, Luke Dykstra and Chris Ellis.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) December 1, 2016
All three ex-Braves were listed in the top 30 of Atlanta’s prospects in MLB.com’s most recent rankings. Ellis, a right-handed pitcher who is the main piece going to the Cardinals, was 17th. Gant, another righty, and Dykstra, an infielder, were ranked 21st and 29th, respectively.
Garcia has been complimented by scouts for his raw pitching ability, but he has often failed to translate that to on-field success. Still, Garcia has recorded a 3.57 ERA and 3.56 FIP over parts of eight seasons in St. Louis, solidifying himself as a decent if unimpressive mid-level starter. After a disappointing 2016 (4.67 ERA, 4.49 FIP), however, the Cardinals evidently decided they were better off trading him than picking up his $12 million team option. Garcia is already the third pitching addition the Braves have made since the end of the season, joining veterans Bartolo Colon and R. A. Dickey as new faces in Atlanta’s rotation.