Monday, November 2, 2015

Reviewing Hart's Trades: Callaspo for Uribe

The Braves have been active in John Hart's first season at the helm to the tune of SIXTEEN TRADES! Sixteen deals involving major league talent going one direction or in both. Sixteen deals that include over 50 different players, a few draft picks, lots of cash, and two Uptons. It's been friggin unreal to see what the Braves have done.

With the season in our rear view, it's time to start reviewing each one of these trades. This series is going take a little while to get through, but hey, it gives me something to write about.

Trades Already Reviewed
La Stella for Vizcaino
Heyward/Walden for Miller/Jenkins
Varvaro for Kurcz
J. Upton for Jace Peterson and prospects
Carp/Shreve for Banulos
Kubitza/Hyatt for Sanchez
Gattis for Foltynewicz and Ruiz
Hale for Briceno
Elander for Cahill and Lots of Cash
The Kimbrel Trade

The Trade
Alberto Callaspo, Juan Jaime, Eric Stults, and Ian Thomas to the Dodgers for Juan Uribe and Chris Withrow

The Rationale
Justin K. Aller | Getty Images Sport
This was an odd trade. On May 27, the Braves and Dodgers were due to begin a three-game series in Los Angeles, but before the first game, this trade was announced. It seemed like the Dodgers were taking some of Atlanta's trash while the Braves were grabbing a guy who was a bit disgruntled with his playing time. But as the Braves did often in 2015, they made the Dodgers give a bit more than they got in return when Los Angeles gave up Withrow, who while hurt, might possess the most dynamic future of any of the six traded.

Callaspo had been the Braves' stopgap measure for second base, but when Jace Peterson had a good spring, Callaspo was relegated to third base where he shared time with the equally awful Chris Johnson. Callaspo played in 37 games with the Braves at the time of the trade and while he was doing a pretty stout job at third base, he had provided little in terms of offense.

But the Dodgers were good with Callaspo because they wanted to trade away Uribe. Even though Uribe had been productive as a Dodger, the team preferred the cheaper Callaspo along with moving a player who, while dealing with a hamstring issue, was wondering why he was sharing time with Justin Turner when had hit .295/.334/.439 with 21 HR during the 2013-14 seasons.

The deal started from the Uribe-for-Callaspo template, but didn't get very far after Callaspo denied to give the Braves permission to deal him. While he didn't have a no-trade clause, rules state that a player who has signed a free agent contract cannot be traded without his permission until June 15. Callaspo quickly reconsidered and why wouldn't he? Atlanta wanted to trade him so they didn't want him and they would deal him eventually. Why stay with them for a few more weeks?

The trade morphed beyond the two players. Ian Thomas was an interesting left-handed reliever out of indy ball who had made the Braves opening day roster in 2014, but had struggled to establish himself as a decent LOOGY. Juan Jaime was a hard-throwing righty who had already been designated for assignment and exposed to waivers earlier in the season. His triple digit heat was enticing, but he never had a grasp on where the ball was headed. As for Eric Stults, he had struggled badly after beating out Wandy Rodriguez in spring training. None of the players the Braves surrendered looked like keepers.

But the Braves did get a keeper in return by acquiring Withrow. A righty with great velocity, Withrow was almost a year removed from Tommy John surgery, which fans jokingly said was the reason the Braves targeted him. Well, it wasn't. What the Braves sought was the guy who had a 11.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and 0.95 WHIP in 26 games with the Dodgers in 2013. He struggled with his control before going under the knife in his follow-up season, but the former 2007 1st rounder was heavy on potential. There was talk that Withrow would be a possibility for the Braves in the second half.

Short-Term Results
The Dodgers got very little out of this deal. Callaspo hit .260 after the trade with a .637 OPS before being released in late August. Thomas appeared in nine games, including a start. Overall, the numbers are not bad, nor good, because we're talking about only 18 innings. His minor league work wasn't much to write home about.

Jaime appeared with five different minor league stops after the trade. It was like the Dodgers were trying to work with him, though his control remains suspect. I imagine he'll be headed to the world of minor league free agency. Stults never appeared in the majors after the trade and instead split time between Tulsa (AA) and Oklahoma City (AAA). He was actually pretty good and will likely be hunting for another spring invite this winter.

While the Dodgers struck out, the Braves got Uribe's power, which helped a punchless lineup. He settled in as the regular third baseman while also providing high-caliber defense that CJ wasn't capable of. During a 46-game run with the Braves, he hit .285/.353/.817 with 7 HR. Fangraphs grades his time with the Braves as a 1.4 fWAR. Over a 162-game sample, that's a nearly 5 fWAR. True, he wouldn't have done that over a full season, but it does mean that he played at a high level when he was a Brave.

That production allowed the Braves to flip Uribe, along with Kelly Johnson, to the Mets for a couple of pitching prospects before the deadline.

Long-Term Outlook
You could add the Mets deal as an extension of this trade and how the two ex-Mets, John Gant and Robert Whalen, pitch for the Braves in the future will help in grading this deal long-term.

More importantly, how will Withrow do once he's finally back on the mound? He seems on track to pitch for the Braves this spring and could be a big part of Atlanta's hope to have a much-improved bullpen heading into 2016. Out of options, the Braves need Withrow to step back into form. He's also Super 2-eligible this offseason even though he only has 56 innings in the majors. Chances are that he won't get a lot more than the minimum.

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