The Little Deals of the Rebuild (Part 2) – Updated

This is an update to a post from last offseason with more recent evaluations of these trades.

11. Cameron Maybin for Gabe Speier and Ian Krol

Maybin, in his two seasons since the trade, has produced a 2.0 fWAR and 1.2 fWAR. The problem is that he’s made $8M and $9M to do it. Krol, proving the theory that relievers are problematically volatile from year-to-year, turned his 0.9 fWAR production in 2016 to a -0.2 fWAR season. He’s currently a free agent and may end up taking a minor league deal.

12. Ryne Harper for Jose Ramirez

Acquired for nothing, Ramirez has been a serviceable reliever for his 2 years in Atlanta. Fangraphs doesn’t think very highly of Ramirez’s 2017 (-0.4 fWAR), but he has a strong K rate and could be a perfectly cromulent middle reliever for us in 2018. Not bad for getting him for nothing.

13. Christian Bethancourt for Ricardo Rodriguez and Casey Kelly

The noteworthy thing about this trade is that Bethancourt was tried out in the bullpen for San Diego after failing as a catcher, but that failed too and now he’s in Milwaukee’s system still trying as a reliever.

14. Jhoulys Chacin for Adam McCreery

Chacin’s 5 decent starts for Atlanta allowed them to receive a live arm in return. The arm is live enough that after a strong season at A+, the Braves felt like protecting him in the Rule-5 draft. He and Sanchez are intriguing lefty relief options that AA thinks could play a role at some point.

15. Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek for Brian Matusz and 2016 Competitive Balance Round B Pick

The noteworthy piece is the competitive balance B pick that would later turn into Brett Cumberland, a college catcher who had a strong season at A- and A+. He’s only 22, and he’s considered our 2nd or 3rd best catching prospect.

16. Kelly Johnson for Akeel Morris

Akeel Morris is 25 and had a strong season at AAA. Many fans thought he’d be a strong piece in Atlanta’s bullpen, especially after giving up 1 run in 7.1 IP. But he was left off the September roster, leaving many puzzled.

17. Dario Alvarez and Lucas Harrell for Travis Demeritte

This trade had looked like a real coup after Demeritte hit 28 HR between Texas and Atlanta’s A+ affiliates in 2016. But a putrid 2017 has taken the shine off of his prospect status. He’s still a top-20 guy, but he’ll have to rebound in 2018. Still definitely worth the trade.

18. Max Povse and Rob Whalen for Alex Jackson and Tyler Pike

Povse and Whalen still have not done much since leaving Atlanta, but Jackson solidified himself as the Braves’ top catching prospect with a strong hitting performance as a 22 year old at AA. His transition back to catching has been given lukewarm reviews, but he’s exactly the player you trade two middling prospects for. Pike gets drowned out in the waves of pitching prospect, but he’s a soft-tossing lefty who continues to matriculate through Atlanta’s system. He had a lackluster year at AA, but his K rate (10.37/9) is something to keep an eye on as a reliever.

19. Luke Dykstra, Chris Ellis, and John Gant for Jaime Garcia

They used their surplus of unexciting pitching prospects to get a solid year out of Garcia. He made 18 starts for Atlanta and was then traded for a starting pitching prospect with upside, Huascar Ynoa.

20. Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith for Thomas Burrows and Luiz Gohara

This is the biggest trade of all of the little deals. Gohara is a physically huge prospect who is also a huge prospect. Gohara ended up getting all the way to Atlanta, making stops at A+, AA, and AAA. He wasn’t a helium prospect; he was attached to a rocketship. Some expect him to be Atlanta’s top pitcher in 2018. Burrows is also an intriguing relief left-handed prospect. This trade was a huge get for Atlanta.


53 thoughts on “The Little Deals of the Rebuild (Part 2) – Updated”

  1. Hard to say that someone that you project as a middle reliever or setup man at best is your most underrated prospect, but I believe that Akeel Morris is pretty dang underrated. His numbers pretty much every year and K/9 are lights out.

    Also Mallex (Baby Rock) Smith had a pretty decent year for Tampa last year. .8 fWAR

  2. Akeel Morris is 25 and had a strong season at AAA. Many fans thought he’d be a strong piece in Atlanta’s bullpen, especially after giving up 1 run in 7.1 IP. But he was left off the September roster, leaving many puzzled.

    Akeel pitched a career-high 60ish innings, and it’s not like there was anything to play for. He also walks a lot of guys.

    Maybin, in his two seasons since the trade, has produced a 2.0 fWAR and 1.2 fWAR. The problem is that he’s made $8M and $9M to do it.

    If that’s a problem, then what is Markakis?

  3. I don’t think I remember specifically comparing Mallex to Tim Raines any more than I was comparing him to Kenny Lofton (which is still a valid comp), but I enjoy the running joke. It is unfortunate that he’s found himself on 3 teams in the last 2 years, two of which have Kevin Kiermaier and Ender Inciarte, and the team that had Jarrod Dyson chose not to keep him. I was convinced a rebuilding Rays, after trading Longoria, would have traded Kiermaier and let Mallex play CF. With Denard Span, they now have 3 CFs, and I think Mallex would do well if a team committed to him in CF. I think he’s probably a better player than 3 trades and backup roles make him appear, but Luiz Gohara is just an absolute heist the way things look right now. Of course, Mallex gets traded, puts up a 3 WAR season, and Luiz blows out his elbow and things can change quickly.

  4. It would not surprise me if in 5 years, we look back on Mallex for Gohara as the Anti-Simmons trade.

  5. MLB Pipeline Top 100:

    97. Austin Riley
    83. Max Fried
    58. Kolby Allard
    51. Ian Anderson
    49. Luiz Gohara
    31. Mike Soroka
    30. Kyle Wright
    2. Ronald Acuña

    They had Ohtani instead of Acuna, so whatever, but this was their top 10:

    1. Shohei Ohtani
    2. Ronald Acuna
    3. Vlad Guerrero Jr.
    4. Eloy Jiminez
    5. Gleyber Torres
    6. Victor Robles
    7. Nick Senzel
    8. Fernando Tatis Jr.
    9. Forrest Whitley
    10. Michael Kopech

    Lewis Brinson, the headliner of the Yelich deal, was ranked 27th by MLB. But I’m quite confident none of those top 10 would have been traded for Yelich, let alone a top 2, so if Brinson is a 10-15 guy like in other lists, I think they did really well to find a match, get someone as good as him, and have that match being able to give up the additional prospects to make it work.

  6. If that’s a problem, then what is Markakis?

    A problem, and that’s why they’re trying to trade him. But they clearly, at the time, felt like Markakis provided something that Maybin didn’t. At the time, Kakes was coming off a 1.5 fWAR season 1 year into his deal and the optimism was that his neck would be fully recovered for an even better 2016. Maybin was coming off a 0.9 fWAR season, so it would seem like the Braves bet wrong. It’s interesting that Maybin keeps getting traded.

    Akeel pitched a career-high 60ish innings, and it’s not like there was anything to play for. He also walks a lot of guys.

    Morris pitched 61 IP in 2016 as well, including an additional 9 IP in the AFL.

  7. Akeel Morris
    A qui’l Bud Norris
    is reputed to have said
    forget my curve, i’ll take his instead.

  8. I personally don’t think paying Maybin $8-9 mil for 1 WAR with the chance of maybe a little more is a problem. As much as I hated signing Markakis to that contract, he’s done enough to make me shrug with indifference over the whole thing. It’s only a problem when he and his money stand in the way of something better at the wrong time. It seems like that time is finally now, or at least soon.

    But they clearly, at the time, felt like Markakis provided something that Maybin didn’t […] It’s interesting that Maybin keeps getting traded.

    What’s the insinuation here?

    Markakis is more durable than Maybin, but not sign-you-for-three-more-years more durable.

    I googled “Cameron Maybin clubhouse,” and the first article I got had this for the pull quote: “I’d say how David Ortiz was to the Red Sox, the vocal leader he was, Cam is the same way with us.” -BEN REVERE

    More: Maybin always stands at the figurative center of the Angels’ clubhouse. He is a boisterous presence, capable of assuaging dismayed teammates with his indefatigable energy.

    When Andrelton Simmons answered a question about his exclusion from the All-Star Game because of the crowded American League shortstop class, Maybin shouted from across the room: “You’re the best shortstop in the [censored] game, and you should be there!”

    Maybe we should’ve made Cameron Maybin our GM.

    I googled “Nick Markakis clubhouse” and got in the first article: But here’s what 33-year-old Markakis is: Steady as they come, quiet but effective leader, perfect example for young players to follow if they want to know how to be a good teammate and play the game for a long time.

    Hmmm. OK, but seems like Nori Aoki could’ve done that. I’d feel better about the whole thing if people dropped the whole “veteran presence” charade.

  9. Right. The purpose of trading is to get surplus value in return and not give it up. Maybin has had 2 productive seasons, but he was making those salaries, so I attempted to minimize that by saying what he was making. So before it seemed like we gave up someone with significant surplus value, it’s important to note that he’s being paid to deliver that type of production. I don’t follow the rigid 1 WAR/$7-8M calculation. Maybin’s a risk, and it was a risk to commit to paying $8M and $9M for a guy coming off a .9 fWAR season. In my view, Kakes and him are their own situations, and not really something worth comparing. They were acquired and then either stayed or were traded for 4 different reasons.

    I wasn’t implying or insinuating he had some sort of clubhouse issue. And to be fair, it’s really not that interesting. Two rebuilding teams traded him because they were rebuilding, and he’s still a free agent probably because he’s a tough guy to value. To your point, there seems to be a sticking point right now over “veteran presence”.

  10. Disclaimer 1: I’m not accusing anybody of anything.
    Disclaimer 2: I know the main reason the Braves signed Markakis to that contract was because they misjudged him to be better than he is.

    Between this and the internet-wide Andruw discussion, I’d be curious to see how descriptions of a player with “clubhouse leadership” or “veteran presence” correlates with the player’s race.

    *Runs for cover*

  11. The purpose of trading is to get surplus value in return and not give it up.

    That is stark! Makes me wonder if many trades went down in the Braves Journal fantasy league. Your points are well taken.

  12. Is there interest in a Braves Journal league this year? Sound off if you’re interested.

  13. Let’s juat say Dick Williams was a bad seed troublemaker who hurt locker room cohesion while Mike Schmidt was a hard nosed straight shooting gamer who’s fire and grit made his teammates better.

  14. MLB Pipeline had something called “prospect points”, which is explained here:

    100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and so on down the line, below are the teams’ ranks in terms of “prospect points.”

    Braves are second with 407 and Padres lead with 423. I decided to do the same with Baseball America and Keith Law:

    Keith Law:

    Baseball America:

    So they have us on MLB Pipeline, but we’ve got them on BA and KLaw, for what that’s worth.

  15. I’d be down for a bravesjournal fantasy league. CBS has a pretty decent interface for those fed up with Yahoo and ESPN.

  16. Count me in for a BJ fantasy league. I need something to fill the void I’ve had in my life since I lost my spot in the Crowhoppers league.

  17. Akeel Morris
    a qui’l Bud Norris
    is reputed to have said
    forget my curve, i’ll take his instead.

  18. Manny Machado
    in an act of contentious bravado
    insists this year he plays short
    for a few months anyway, before he is bought.

    Tyler Flowers
    on the top ten catchers list, the height of his powers
    he will retire to the Metropolitan Museum
    framing paintings, the better you can see ‘um.

    Keith Law
    having looked at everything he saw
    has called the Braves farm ‘stacked’
    an adjective from the past now deemed lacking in tact.

  19. Did Bowman say we had a certain amount of payroll space available? I’m reading on Twitter $15M, but I haven’t seen that anywhere.

  20. Some of us told you the upgrade from Flowers to Realmuto was nominal at best, and certainly not worth spending prospects for it.

  21. Also, just as a matter of style and grace, this article series should *obviously* be titled “Fables of the Reconstruction, Part x/y/z”

  22. Of etymological note from

    Copenhaver: Probably an Americanized spelling of German Kobenhauer, an occupational name for a cooper (see Koppenhaver).

    Rob Cope and I are in fact brothers, though he’s a bit younger.

    Which reminds me of the old Lewis Grizzard story:

    Dear Abby, My father’s a drunk, my mother’s a prostitute, my sister’s a junkie and my brother went to the University of Florida. What should I do? –Distressed

    Dear Distressed: Lie about your brother.

  23. The Indians will stop using the Chief Wahoo logo after 2018. Perhaps their new mascot will be Blooper’s cousin, Duck Fart.

  24. Bowman quotes Freddie saying he hopes Acuna can come up and immediately be the next Aaron Judge. LOL, no pressure kid…

  25. Even if they decline a bit, Flowers + Suzuki > Realmuto, IMO. I’d pass unless the Marlins just want to give him away for a fringy prospect etc. which I doubt at this point.

  26. Pretty fitting, with the position players currently on the roster, that the team changed the mascot from Homer to Blooper.

  27. When Blooper is zig-zagging across the diamond with Yackety Sax playing over the PA, being chased by Phil the Bucket and The Freeze, you guys are gonna feel bad for dissing him.

  28. As much as I want to be frustrated that it would seem that we yet again don’t have a cleanup hitter, the catching duo is a cleanup hitter. Kurler Flozuki is basically a .850 OPS right-handed power bat that hit 29 2B, 31 HRs, and 99 RBIs. Even the handedness works for our lineup. The problem is the lack of track record, but while I would have been more comfortable with even Kemp reprising that role, the objective data would probably say that was misplaced. I think it’s a fair bet Flozuki’s OPS exceeds Kemp’s in 2018. So within that vein, the Ender/Ozzie/Freddie/Flozuki/Markakis/Acuna/Swanson/Rarmargo (Camargo and Ruiz) looks a little better on paper. That lineup then only has a legitimate hole in its 5th spot with 6/7/8 all having enough upside to justify their spots. And yes, this is also resigning myself to potential fact that we will probably not upgrade 3B and RF.

  29. @45 – The fact you have to pause and think for a second when comparing him to two long time catchers comfortably in their thirties makes the point in and of itself.

    That fangraphs WAR states Jose Ramirez had negative value (and was worse than Jim Johnson) last year makes me scratch my head. I understand the BABIP and strand rate screams regression, but I watched most of the games last year and he wasn’t bad. He certainly wasn’t worse than JJ.

    At some point, the on field results have to matter.

  30. At some point, the on field results have to matter.

    Sometimes I really don’t understand how Fangraphs evaluates relievers. Rex Brothers had a 7.23 ERA in 23 IP for a 0.2 fWAR. Ramirez had a 3.19 ERA in 62 IP with a 8.13 K/9 for a -0.4 fWAR. Aside from his admittedly poor walk rate (4.13/9), nothing jumps out on the page that tells you that he was markedly worse than a replacement-level player the way his fWAR suggests. Brothers’ K rate is significantly better (12.55/9), but his walk and home run rates are quite similar. Considering he was pathologically incapable of preventing runs from scoring in that short sample, I can’t see how he would be almost a full win more valuable than Ramirez had he pitched the same amount of innings as Ramirez. Consider me confused.

  31. In addition to striking out an additional batter more every 2 IP, Brothers was hit-unlucky in the extreme, whereas Jose Ramirez was positively blessed by the BABIP gods. That’ll do it. At least Ramirez throws really hard.

    Also, a -0.4 WAR player and a 0.2 WAR player are pretty close to the same. The decimals don’t count for much.

  32. @47 If you’re really curious about how Fangraphs calculates pitcher WAR, here you go. Long story short, Fangraphs primarily calculates pitcher value from a modified version of Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which estimates a pitcher’s run prevention skills independent of defense using the outcomes where defense doesn’t come into play (HR, BB, HBP, K).

    Probably the easiest way to boil it down is this: in 2017, Ramirez’s K-BB% was 10.5%, and Brothers’ was 20%. Hence, Brothers had a lower FIP and a better WAR than Ramirez.

    PS – Brothers’ career ERA (3.76) nearly matches his career FIP/xFIP, and he had many very successful seasons by ERA in Colorado with K and BB rates similar to his 2017 Braves season. There’s so much volatility in actual run-scored outcomes when you pitch only 23 IP in a season like Brothers – the difference between a 3 run HR and a long flyball out amounts to an ERA difference of more than 1.

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