Were you thinking about asking for a Jason Heyward Braves jersey for a holiday present? Was Tommy La Stella’s aggressive approach at the plate getting you excited to see him in a Braves uniform for the next decade or more?
Welp, forget about it, because they’ve both been shipped out of Atlanta. Heyward was traded Monday afternoon to the St. Louis Cardinals (along with reliever Jordan Walden; the team got pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins), and La Stella was shipped to the Chicago Cubs over the weekend in exchange and Arodys Vizcaino.
The Heyward trade was a clear message from sitting GM John Hart that the Braves are likely to blow up the entire mission this offseason after sending former GM Frank Wren packing. Heck, Hart even traded Wren’s son from one of the Braves’ minor-league teams. That’s cold.
As AJC.com writer Jeff Schultz says, moving Heyward is a huge risk – especially if he hits 40 or more homers for a rival that was already closer to winning a championship than the Braves.
(Also read: The Falcons pull off something completely unexpected)
However, aside from shipping off a hometown hero to a contender, this deal makes a lot of sense. The Braves might have only been able to keep Heyward for one more season before he went onto the free-agent market, when he would have probably been scooped up by the Yankees or Red Sox. Instead, the Braves will get Miller and a prospect in Jenkins, who both have several years left on their current contracts. Miller has always been a highly-discussed young arm with great potential, and Jenkins has very nasty stuff, by all accounts.
Watch the video to the end and you’ll see what I mean.
Still, it’s completely understandable for Braves fans to be a little hurt that one of their favorite players has been shown the door.
I, for one, will never forget the incredible moment I witnessed at Turner Field, when Heyward hit a home run in his first career at-bat on Opening Day 2010.
(PS- count the number of players in that video clip who are no longer with the team. How about … all of them??)
That memory and so many more was the reason why fans – and even local businesses – were pouring one out for the “J-Hey Kid” on Monday.
But this deal might have been a foreshadowing for what’s coming the rest of the offseason for Braves fans. Are you invested in seeing Evan Gattis in a Braves uniform in 2015? How about the Upton brothers? Chris Johnson?
They’re all on the table for possible trades, according to people who have inside knowledge of Hart’s plans.
Here’s my take on the Heyward trade: It’s nice to see the team get something in return, when it’s likely they would have lost Heyward after next season. It’s likely that this squad isn’t going to win the World Series in 2015, so the front office is going to start preparing for the big 2017 season when the new stadium opens. They need to be good by then, because they don’t want to open a new ballpark with an indifferent fanbase not attending games.
At the same time, I’m a little worried about a new front office blowing up a roster that won 96 games in 2013.
But it’s looking like I, and you, need to get used to seeing hometown favorites traded out of town, because the Braves are going to do whatever it takes to pull out of this rut, whether we like it or not.