I wish I could say that the long delay of this recap was intentional, but Ryan C. could tell you otherwise. Hope you all had a wonderful celebration of Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith giving those aliens a virus. Kyle Wright had another great start for the first four innings, and the Braves scored six runs in the first two innings, and then came the rains. Fortunately, they stopped after just under three hours, so we were able to get a regulation game in. Would’ve been a shame to waste the fireworks, I guess.
The game got a little closer in the later innings thanks to a homer by Juan Yepez, who has 11 taters in 193 PA, with a healthy .281/.321/.522 line in his rookie campaign. It’s quite remarkable that he may be one of the best players traded away by the Braves since the start of the rebuild.
In general, we hoarded our prospects and just traded away players who had larger salaries, or who were complimentary pieces at best — Joey Wentz, Kolby Allard, Patrick Weigel, Alex Jackson; guys like that.
Just to remind you, here’s the prospect package we traded to Baltimore for Kevin Gausman: Brett Cumberland, JC Encarnacion, Evan Phillips, and Bruce Zimmermann. Phillips is a pretty good middle reliever for the Dodgers this year, while Zimmermann has been a bad fifth starter and the other two never made the majors. That’s the kind of prospect Alex has generally traded away. By contrast, the Braves held onto Touki Toussaint until the last gasp of hope that he’d turn into something useful in a Braves uniform had long since expired.
Alex Anthopoulos, as we’ve all learned, would far rather spend a bit more money on a veteran on a one-year contract (Dallas Keuchel, Marcell Ozuna, Josh Donaldson, Cole Hamels, etc.) than pay for someone with prospects who we may come to regret having lost.
Oh, and just to be clear: it wasn’t Alex who traded Yepez. Yepez was traded for Matt Adams six months before Anthopoulos took over. He was signed by Frank Wren in 2014 for something like a million bucks; John Coppolella made the decision to give up Yepez for Adams in May 2017, and then was permanently banned from baseball that autumn.
After the trade, Yepez resumed putting up a sub-.700 OPS in A-ball. He finally got promoted to Double-A in 2019, five years after he was signed, and two years after he was traded to his new organization. The next year, COVID-19 canceled the minor league season. And somehow, Yepez finally tapped into the potential the Braves’ scouts had seen a half-decade prior, as he hit .286/.383/.586 across Double-A and Triple-A, and this year he’s established himself in the majors for good.
Yepez had never really done anything in the Braves organization by the time they traded him, other than maintain a good age relative to league, and being the guy in whom a previous front office had been willing to make a significant investment.
And the Adams trade was still reasonably defensible; he came over midyear and gave us 314 PA of .271/.315/.545 work, solidifying our infield while Freddie was out for two months with a wrist injury from an HBP. But even while Adams was the right acquisition target, he probably could have been acquired for a prospect with a higher ceiling and a lower floor.
Juan Yepez is a good object lesson for why Anthopoulos has been so reluctant to yield any high-ceiling prospects in trade. A lot of the time, the most important move you can make is to refuse to do something hasty and stupid. AA is really, really good at that.