November 17, 2014

#Cardinals make blockbuster trade with Braves

Jason Heyward,
rental? Long-term
Cardinal answer?
Whoa now. Big Cardinals-Braves trade just went down, as the Post-Dispatch and others note.

Shelby Miller and minors prospect Tyrell Jenkins go to Atlanta for Jason Heyward and setup man Jordan Waldon.

First, if you'll click Jenkins' link, you'll see he's as much a "prospect" as is every other minor league player with breath and a pulse, and that's the end of that story. Not sure why anybody would "love" him, but I guess some people do.  Tis true, per the PD, that he looked good in the Arizona Fall League. I still say "meh." A "prospect" with mechanics bad enough to cause multiple-year shoulder problems — not to mention a team not noticing that earlier, per the Cards' growing reputation on issues medical and management — is also ... "interesting." Per the link just above, he was expendible in another way. The Cards were either going to have to add him to the 40-man roster or else expose him to the Rule 5 draft.

So, what we have is Miller, who regressed in 2014 and probably is still in the doghouse of manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak to a degree, going to the Barves for a good set-up type guy and an  OK bat, good defense corner OF.

Shelby Miller now
an ex-Cardinal.
Right move?
Big problem is that Miller was under team control for a few years while Heyward is a free agent after 2015.

Well, the Cards will give him the QO if they don't resign him and get their comp draft pick. This "bridges" past the loss of Oscar Taveras and gives the team a full season to look at Randal Grichuk and also Stephen Piscotty, as well as figuring out the long-term future of Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. And, Heyward can play center as well as right, so, resigning him could be in the works as part of moving past Jay. That said, Heyward hasn't actually played CF that much.

So, long-term, this is a chance to develop OF depth, plus Jay and Heyward are in competition for a long-term contract. I really don't see the Cards keeping both down the road.

Contra commenters at Hardball Talk, I don't think the move, at first glance, is either "terrible" or "terrific." I think it's interesting, probably a mild plus if Heyward isn't resigned, and a decent sized plus if he is, and deserves it. In all of this, let's not forget Heyward is only going to be 25 next year, too.

At the same time, there is one BIG problem with the lefty Heyward. His career lefty-righty splits are at least half as bad as those of Matt Adams. And, if they're that bad over 5 years, they're not getting better in the future.

On the pitching side? Surely this means Carlos Martinez comes to spring training as the presumed fifth starter, unless Mo and Matheny decide to give Trevor Rosenthal a shot as well. It could also mean that Mo will still eye resigning Justin Masterson if the price is right.

So, a trade that is "interesting" and probably can't be fully evaluated until a year from now.

This may be a win-win, and it may be a garbage-garbage for all we know. Bernie Miklasz offers his analysis of Heyward, pre-trade move, and more, post-trade.

There is one seeming plus to add. "Character," like "grit," is sometimes overrated. But, it's sometimes underrated, too. Heyward, in his farewell to Braves fans, certainly seems to be bringing some positive character to the Birds.

So, why didn't Heyward stay in Atlanta? Per a follow-up at Hardball Talk, there's either missed communication, or he and new temporary super-GM John Hart weren't seeing eye to eye. It's interesting that Hart's in this job on a presumably shorter-term basis, and has only been there a couple of weeks, and he's already pulling triggers.

As for paying Heyward 7/$140 on a new contract, which has been one set of figures I've seen tossed out for what he wanted out of Hotlanta? Erm, no! I'd like Mo to start at 5/$85 and work upward. I'll consider either 7 years OR $20M/per, but not both. Not unless he finds some of his old power back (without his old strikeouts), or can steal even more bases than before, and at a success rate like this year, not like in the past.

Now, where to play him in the batting lineup. That's the subject for a second post. Stay tuned. And, obviously, this changes who else the team might look for in the offseason, per my first speculations a couple of weeks ago.

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