November 17, 2014

Braves Come Out Well in Heyward Trade

The John Hart/John Coppolella front office made its first big move Monday, trading Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden to the St. Louis Cardinals for young starter Shelby Miller and right-handed pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins.

This move indicates the Braves didn’t think they would be able to sign Heyward long-term for agreeable terms.  Another 25-year-old rightfielder, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, just signed an extension of 13 years and $325 million.  While Heyward hasn’t produced at Stanton’s level offensively, especially in the power department (Stanton is one of the best power hitters in the game, if not the best), Heyward has consistently been one of the most valuable defensive players in the game and is still young enough to yet live up to his offensive potential.  Some team is likely to give Heyward a big contract.

Rather than risk losing Heyward for merely a draft pick, they dealt him (and threw in Jordan Walden) for two quality, young arms under contract for a while.  Shelby Miller is 24 and is not arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season.  He won’t hit free agency until after the 2018 season.  Coming up through the minors, 2010-2013, Miller was consistently rated a top 50 prospect by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and  As a major leaguer, in 370 innings, he’s posted a 3.33 ERA with 7.6 strikeouts per 9 innings, 3.3 walks per 9, and one homerun per 9.  Miller is a solid #3 starter with the potential to pitch like a #2.

The Braves also get Tyrell Jenkins in the deal, a 22-year-old who pitched in the High-A Florida State league all of this past season.  Jenkins was ranked the #94 prospect by Baseball Prospectus before the 2013 season and was the #94 prospect on Baseball America’s pre-2012 rankings.  The Cardinals selected him 50th overall in the 2010 first-year player draft.

In November of 2012, Mark Hulet of Fangraphs wrote this about Jenkins:

A scout I spoke with said, although he wasn’t polished, certain things came easily to the young pitcher, including a natural wind-up and good balance over the rubber. “It seemed like he was always repeating his delivery… Unlike a lot of raw pitchers, (the Cardinals) didn’t have to build his delivery from the ground floor up; it came naturally to him and he was doing things (he should be) without knowing that he was or should be doing it.” The scout said Jenkins was always a pitcher rather than a thrower, like most amateur hurlers. “He’s one of those guys… you just know you have something special. He’s a really neat kid.”

Jenkins has struck out 7.1 batters per 9 innings, walked 3.2, and allowed 0.6 homeruns per 9 in 274 2/3 minor league innings, all between rookie ball and High-A ball, and he’s posted an ERA of 4.23.  He’s had some shoulder trouble but has looked healthy as of late.

Keith Law on Jenkins:

Tyrell Jenkins was the No. 74 prospect for me going into the 2012 season, then shoulder injuries robbed him of much of that season and 2013. But he came back healthy this year and was one of the best prospects in the Arizona Fall League. When I saw him there in October, he was 93-96 with good downhill plane, turning the pitch over quite well even at 95 mph, generating lots of ground balls. His slider was plus at 83-87, with curveball depth, and actually got sharper into his second and third innings. His changeup was fringy, straight at 86-88, effective because his delivery of the pitch is close to his fastball delivery, but lacking any life or action. He’s as strong as ever, and his shoulder is the healthiest it has been in more than two years. A former three-sport star who had a football scholarship to Baylor, he repeats his delivery very well and has the aggressiveness you’d expect (and want) to see from a former quarterback. He immediately becomes the team’s top pitching prospect and should be ready to begin 2015 in Double-A.

So for Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden, a reliever who has had an up-and-down career but is dominant when healthy, the Braves get a young pitcher who can help them in the near-term and a young pitcher who can help them long-term.  There’s always risk in acquiring pitching because of the injury concerns but it’s also difficult to acquire talented arms.  With Heyward entering the final year of his current contract, the Braves weren’t likely to get a return of young position players with star potential.  Once the Braves realized they weren’t going to be able to sign Heyward to an extension that both parties could agree on, this was about as good a trade as can be expected.  It gives them youth while not doing a whole lot to hurt their chances to contend in the near future.



6 Responses to “Braves Come Out Well in Heyward Trade”

  1. 1
    Brendt Wayne Waters Says:

    Could be worse; could be raining.

  2. 2
    Ryan Says:

    This trade further exposes the Braves leadership deficit and now blows an even bigger hole in the lackluster offense. I have a hard time believing, especially reading some of Jason’s quotes today, the Braves did all they could to explore a long term deal. It was obvious he wanted to be in Atlanta for a long time.
    I understand the business end of this deal but I have to say I’m disappointed in the trade without any emotion. If I add the emotion, I’m pissed at this deal.
    The Braves needed pitching, but let’s deal Gattis, for an AAA stud and let him learn from Roger and develop for a year.
    I really hope there is more trades up Harts sleeve for leadership and offense, otherwise it’s going to be a very long season.

  3. 3
    Jeff Says:

    I love Jason’s defense, base running and hitting vs righties. But let’s face it, based on last years stats, BJ should have pinch hit for Jason in high leverage at bats vs lefties. That’s a big problem for one of your key offensive pieces.

  4. 4
    LP Says:

    Braves win ! Great defense , average offense one year versus a #2 to #3 starter quality pitcher for three years maybe longer is a no brainer

  5. 5
    Tyler Says:

    They swapped 3 years of control between Heyward and Walden for 7 between Miller and the other guy. It may not be the best trade for next but the long term advantage could be substantial especially if Miller turns out to be really good for us. The trade also frees up 11 million to go after a guy like Jon Lester or Jake Peavy.

  6. 6
    Shaun Says:

    Ryan @2, seems to me like the Braves weren’t sure how to valuate Heyward going forward, as he’s getting to his value in a completely different way than he was projected to as a minor leaguer and it’s hard to know what to make of that. So they weren’t going to pay him on the high end of what he’s capable of, but Heyward knows some team will and rightfully he’s going to free agency in hopes that he gets it. The Braves probably had an idea what it would take and weren’t willing to go there, which is why they didn’t approach him, if they indeed didn’t approach him about an extension.

    Tyler @5, it’s actually 10 years of control for Miller and Jenkins.

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