Yesterday, the Braves decided to part ways with Andrelton Simmons by trading him to the Angels for Erick Aybar, Angels top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb, and Chris Ellis. The Angels also acquired catching prospect Jose Briceno.
Now, with the Angels acquiring Simmons they have solidify the shortstop position for the next 5 years. Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in all of baseball and some people say he is the best defensive player in the game today. Simmons’ bat is still a question, but he is only 26 and I personally think his bat will takeoff in the 2016 season. If Simmons grows into a good hitter then they might end up regretting trading him. Simmons this past season had a stat line of .265/.321/.338/.660 with 4 homers and 44 RBIs. Simmons power has disappeared. In 2013 he belted 17 homers and in the past 2 seasons he has combined for only 11 home runs. Simmons is going to make around $54 mil in his final 5 years of his current deal. Simmons’ deal is a reasonable contract for a top shortstop that you will never see in the free agency market.
Next, the mystery guy in the deal is Jose Briceno. Briceno is a catcher that played in High Single-A and struggled. The 23 year old had a stat line of .183/.215/.267/.482 with 4 homers and 20 RBIs. Earlier, Briceno’s minor league career was looking bright with the stick by hitting at a consistent .280 batting average. Briceno is still developing his catcher skills, but has the tools and athleticism to stay behind the dish. Briceno also has a strong arm.
Now, the Braves hit the jackpot that most teams were trying to land and that is by getting Sean Newcomb. Newcomb is a big lefty (6’5″, 245 pounds). Newcomb worked his way up last season to Double-A and should stay in Double-A next season and hopefully reach Triple-A. The Braves have lots of pitching prospects and a good rotation in the pro level to where they do not have to rush Newcomb. Newcomb posted a 9-3 record with a 2.38 ERA, 168 K’s, 76 walks, gave up only 5 homers in 136 innings. He also started all of the 27 games he played in. Newcomb needs to limit the walks and refine his command. Now, Newcomb has a good arsenal that is still developing. The 22 year old’s arsenal includes a fastball that can sit anywhere from 93 to 98 mph, his breaking ball made great progress last season, also his changeup is a work in progress, but is still one of his average pitches to where he can throw it on a regular basis. Also, a lefty like Newcomb is rare and that is what makes him a special prospect. He will be a future Ace. Pro Comparison: Jon Lester, but with heat on his fastball.
Next, the Braves got 23 year old Chris Ellis. Ellis is also another big pitcher, but is a right hander that pitched his way to Double-A. He has grown with Newcomb in the minors and will most likely start in Double-A and make his way to Triple-A. Ellis posted a 11-9 record with a 3.90 ERA, 132 K’s, 63 walks, gave up 15 home runs in 140.2 innings of work. Ellis has to improve on more areas that Newcomb. Ellis needs to limit the walks, command his pitches, and keep the ball in the park not out of the park. Another thing he needs to work on is keeping the ball down in the zone because he gets killed when his fastball stays high and flat. Now, Ellis’ arsenal consist of a sinker in the 90-92 mph range with a tremendous changeup, also he is working on a curveball. His curveball is inconsistent, but has great depth and power on it when its working. He will remain in the rotation, but could end up being in the back end of the bullpen.
Finally, the Braves are replacing Simmons with veteran Erick Aybar. Aybar is on his last year on his current deal. He is set to make $8.5 mil. Aybar is a solid player and is a good stop gap player till Ozhaino Albies is ready. Albies is the Braves best rated shoortstop and position player. He will be ready in 2 years. Aybar had another successful season by hitting a stat line of .270/.301/.338/.639 with 3 homers and 44 RBIs. Aybar stole 15 bags and plays solid defense at the shortstop position.
Overall: Both teams gained from this trade. Angels are in a winning situation and the Braves are in a rebuild mode. I think the Braves got the best of this because they save money and gained 2 really good prospects that could help them in 2 years. Also, the Braves now have 8 quality pitching prospects that could make an impact in the future.