Monday, November 17, 2014

Irrational Knee-Jerk Reaction: Heyward/Walden for Shelby Miller/Some Other Guy

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Why?

It's not that I don't understand the nature of the business. Jason Heyward was a pending free agent after 2015. Add on top of that was the fact that his case was fairly unusual. His value was built largely on all-around talent. 21.4 fWAR through five years despite a .429 SLG and .345 wOBA is unusual, but Heyward's base-running and defense helped make him a far more valuable player.

It's also not that I don't understand that the Braves had serious pitching questions beyond Julio Teheran and Alex Wood.

But this trade seems to be a case of cutting your nose to spite your face. Without getting into the Jordan Walden/Tyrell Jenkins part of the trade, the Braves basically said four years of Shelby Miller was enough for one year of Jason Heyward. To that, I come away wondering why. Is Miller enough for a 4-6 fWAR type guy?

To that answer...it kind of depends. Is Miller the 2013 version that posted a 3.06 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 8.8 K/9, and got swinging strikes on 9% of his pitches. That last mark was better than Jordan Zimmermann, Jon Lester, or David Price that season. Or is it the Miller of 2014? The same pitcher who saw significant drops in every positive category and went from a 2.2 fWAR pitcher to a 0.2 one? Or is it September 2014 Miller, who got his fastball down and started to get swings-and-misses?

The Braves are banking on it being the 2013 guy, obviously. And what does this mean for the rest of the team? Well, it's hard to know at this point. Zach Klein tweeted that this could be just the beginning so I struggle to make any real judgement because things can change rapidly, but does this mean Evan Gattis goes to left and Justin Upton to right? That can't be a good sign for your new flyball pitcher.

I'll look further into Jenkins later, but the Walden for Jenkins part of the trade is reasonable compensation so I look at this as two different deals. I'm just not impressed with this trade from the Braves point-of-view. I accept that Roger McDowell does some good things, but losing Heyward and getting a guy coming off a bad season makes me unhappy. That said, if Miller was coming off back-to-back good seasons, the Braves probably can't get him either.

The other side of this is that the Braves saved roughly $10M in this trade. That money could be put into a player or two in free agency. That part could help Atlanta. Of course, if this is the first domino in a rebuild, that doesn't matter so much.

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