On the eve of the 2015 season, the Atlanta Braves traded away a beloved player – closer Craig Kimbrel. It made sense to those who were impartial to the trade, but the fanbase was understandably upset.
The trade that just occurred will be a lot harder to explain.
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels. In return, the Braves will receive veteran infielder Erick Aybar and pitchers Chris Ellis and Sean Newcomb – both prospects.
(Also read: Just how far into the doghouse is Roddy White?)
The news comes one day – one day – after Simmons was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year. For the entire league. The Braves rewarded Simmons by shipping him to the West Coast.
The best defensive shortstop in Major League Baseball, three years running, sent out of town one year before a franchise is supposed to sell an entire city on a new stadium and a better brand.
It’s clear now: nobody on this Braves roster is untouchable. They’ve shipped out two of those “untouchable” players in the last eight months – Simmons and Kimbrel.
AJC.com reminds us that Simmons had five years and $53 million left on his current contract, but Aybar, his replacement, is only signed through next season, when his five-year, $40 million contract will expire. So the Braves will likely be looking for a new shortstop after the 2016 season, since they seem allergic to spending money on anything but new stadiums every 20 years.
The Braves have also made another thing clear, aside from the fact that they’ll trade literally everything on their way out of Turner Field: they are going to have good pitching in the coming years when all this rebuilding is done. They’re stockpiling arms like Soviet Russia stockpiled nukes. Pro scouts seem to be in total agreement that the Braves got two incredible young pitchers in this deal, which is a silver lining for a fanbase that desperately needs one.
And yes, Simmons’ bat has never come around, and probably never will. But he’s a once-in-a-generation shortstop who has been adored by Braves Country, and yet again, the Braves have traded a beloved figure.
Who’s ready to commit to season tickets at SunTrust Park?
Photo: Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports