John Mozeliak had a busy afternoon, sending Jaime Garcia to the Braves for a trio of mid-level prospects.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 1, 2016
Garcia, who just completed his first healthy campaign since 2011, had been rumored to be on the trading block since the season ended. Today, the Cardinals finally pulled the trigger, acquiring Luke Dykstra, Chris Ellis, and John Gant from the Atlanta Braves.
Garcia had a tumultuous tenure with the Cardinals, with 2010 and 2015 being shining stars amongst many injury riddled campaigns. While 2016 was his first full season since 2011, he still held decent value in the trade market due to his past successes. After struggling this season with a 4.67 ERA and with prospects on the way, the Cardinals made it clear that they were looking to move on.
The Prospect Haul:
The Braves have one of the deepest systems in baseball, after trading away Andrelton Simmons, Heyward, and Miller, among others. A prospect ranked low in their system might be ranked slightly higher in the Cardinals’, although with the depth in their farm system, probably not by much.
Braves’ #17 Prospect: Chris Ellis – RHP
Acquired from the Angels before the 2016 season, the 3rd round pick Ellis is a long and lanky SP. It was a tale of two seasons this year for Ellis, dominating AA before getting, frankly, demolished in AAA. In 78.2 innings in AA, Ellis put up a 2.75 ERA allowing only 54 hits. However, he did have an elevated BB rate, and that would come back to bite him, as he pitched to the tune of a 6.52 ERA in AAA, with 52 walks in 67.2 IP, getting dangerously close to a walk per inning. This had not been a problem for him in the past, so there is hope he can regain that control. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but pitches off of his changeup and fastball to get ground balls. Ellis went to Ole Miss, so he is already 24, and his AA showing was his most promising thus far. If he can regain his old form and improve his command, he could be a nice addition.
Braves’ #21 Prospect: John Gant – RHP
Gant is plain old funky. He is the only prospect in this deal that has MLB experience, and he proudly displayed his two step wind-up in his debut. With a fastball that gets up to around 94, a vulcan change up (a take on the splitter grip) that can be devastating at times, and a curveball, Gant is by far the most polished player acquired. He had an up and down season, dominating when called up before falling to an injury and never regaining his form. He is an intriguing player, one that can be a long-term relief type guy or spot starter if necessary. Gant put together solid campaigns for both the Mets and Braves minor league systems (Braves acquired him in the first Kelly Johnson trade), including seasons of ERAs of 2.56 and 3.08. It will be interesting to see whether the Cardinals will try him in the rotation.
Braves’ #29 Prospect: Luke Dykstra – 2B
The son of Lenny Dykstra, Luke rose from relative anonymity in the Braves system to a top 30 prospect this year. A plus runner, Dykstra has quietly put together back-to-back seasons of .300+ batting averages. Although you won’t see much pop from him, he has shown a consistent ability to make contact with only 59 Ks in 694 ABs. Dykstra has not yet shown much on the basepaths and has a low SLG%, but he is crafty and gets on base. He is only 21 and hasn’t played above A ball, and potentially could add pop and more SBs in the future. His future is difficult to predict at his young age, but as he progresses through the minor leagues, it will become much clearer.
Who wins the trade?
Overall, I think it is a very fair trade. One year of Garcia, who has been hit or miss as many Cardinals fans would admit, for 3 decent prospects won’t have anyone up in arms on either side. Nobody could really have expected Garcia to fetch much more than this. With Gant already in the MLB, and Ellis somewhat close, the worth of this deal for the Cardinals will be shown very soon. Depending on Garcia’s season, the Cardinals could have gotten three prospects for practically nothing.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Curry USA TODAY Sports