Knee-jerk trade reaction: Andrelton Simmons for whom?
Many and perhaps most trades are immediately described as good for both teams.
Which usually seems right! At least in the moment. Considering you’ve got trading partners with different needs but access to exactly the same public information, we should nearly always assume that from our limited perspective, both teams did almost exactly what they were trying to do. Maybe even what they needed to do.
But when it comes to the Braves trading Andrelton Simmons to the Angels for two pitching prospects, I’m reluctantly drawn to the conclusion that from our limited perspective, this doesn’t make much sense for either team.
As I just wrote this morning, the Braves were already loaded with pitching prospects. And while Chris Ellis and Sean Newcomb are probably the Angels’ two best prospects, period, it’s not clear that either will actually become a valuable major leaguer.
Ellis has advanced quickly through the minors, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio has hardly been dominant. I suppose maybe that speaks well for him; he kept getting promoted even without pitching brilliantly. Same story for Newcomb, except he’s given up substantially fewer home runs than Ellis, and the first-round draft pick just last year is a truly fine prospect.
But as I said, the Braves already had a bushel of fine pitching prospects. I suppose you can’t have too many fine pitching prospects. But at the cost of your best player, who’s still young and fairly cheap? Simmons is already signed through 2020, and even then his salary will be just $15 million. He’s been worth something like $20 million in each of the last two seasons. And that’s 2014-2015 dollars. By 2020, he should rank among baseball’s greatest veteran bargains.
OK, so it seems I’ve talked myself into really liking this deal for the Angels. Erick Aybar, who’s also going to Atlanta, is eligible for free agency after next season. Now the Angels don’t have to worry about who’s playing shortstop in 2017. Or ’18 or ’19 or ’20. And giving up a couple of pitching prospects seems like a small price to pay for (non-injury) certainty at a key position.
We can say with approximately zero reservations that this trade makes the Angels better in 2016 and ’17, and the Braves worse. Beyond that, nobody can say. Beyond that, the sun might explode. Until then, though, Angels fans will probably enjoy the hell out of their new shortstop. And Turner Field’s going to be an awfully lonely place next year.
If the sun doesn’t explode, though? The Braves do have a kid shortstop named Ozhaino Albies who might make everybody forget Simba by 2018 or ’19. Time is a flat circle.
Late note: The Angels are also getting a young minor-league catcher in the trade. Which obviously makes it even better for them, if only by a little.