Expected to be active before the MLB trade deadline, the Braves didn’t disappoint with as part of a three-team, 13-player deal with the Dodgers and Marlins.
Though it was the pieces they parted with in this trade — which was completed Thursday after reports spread Wednesday night — what made this move so shocking.
Alex Wood — perceived as a foundation piece for the rotation — and Jose Peraza — the organization’s top-rated prospect via MLB.com — were sent to Los Angeles along with closer Jim Johnson, reliever Luis Avilan and injured starter Bronson Arroyo. The Dodgers are also landing starter Mat Latos and first baseman Michael Morse.
In return, Atlanta receives Cuban prospect Hector Olivera, injured bullpen arm Paco Rodriguez, minor league right-hander Zack Bird and a competitive-balance pick via the Marlins. Three low-level pitchers (Jeff Brigham, Victor Araujo, Kevin Guzman) were shipped to Miami.
The dealing of Wood comes as particularly stunning. Just 24, he’s not eligible for arbitration until 2017 or free agency until 2020. Taken in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Georgia, he was making $520,000 this season, in which he was 7-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts.
The 30-year-old Olivera, who the Dodgers signed for $62.5 million last year, is hitting .348/.392/.493. Last playing for the organization’s Fall League team on July 13, he’s been on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.
Having seen time at second base, third base and designated hitter, the Braves are believed to like Oliver a third base. Should he live up the hype that followed his signing he could give Atlanta an infield that teams him with first baseman Freddie Freeman, second baseman Jace Peterson and shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Wood did see a drastic decline in his strikeout rate (17.7) after sitting at 24.5 in 2014 and opponents were hitting a career-high .280 against him. But in his last two starts — one of which was against the Dodgers — he had allowed a combined three earned runs with 10 Ks to two walks.
It’s unclear how the Braves will fill his role in the rotation considering Mike Foltynewicz was called up to fill the spot of Manny Banuelos, who is dealing with a born spur on his elbow. The main pieces of the current five-man includes Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran and Matt Wisler.
Williams Perez is expected to be back soon after suffering a left foot contusion, but the loss of Wood will be difficult to make up for.
Peraza, seemingly blocked at his typical position of second base by surprising rookie Peterson and center field (where he’s made more than a dozen appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett) by Cameron Maybin, the 21-year-old Venezuelan may have been seen by a man without a spot on the big-league roster.
This season, in which he was hitting .295/.319/.380, was his first above Double-A.
Johnson, 32, who took over the closer role after Jason Grilli ruptured his Achilles tendon, was rumored to be on the move. In 21 appearances since June 9 he has allowed just two runs in 21 2/3 innings (0.83 ERA). He has nine saves on the year with a 2.25 ERA. Avilan hasn’t been the same player since 2013 when he had a career-best 1.52 ERA in 65 innings. Last season he had a 4.57 ERA, ultimately getting demoted, and this year was at 3.58 in 37 2/3 innings.
Arroyo was the late addition to the deal on Thursday, as the Dodgers will now be responsible for the remainder of the $9.5 million he’s due this season and his $13 million club option ($4.5 million buyout) in 2016. The Braves acquired Arroyo in their June deal with the Diamondbacks that featured top pitching prospect Touki Toussaint.
There is no timetable on the return of Rodriguez. He’s missed time with elbow tendinitis and had elbow surgery last month.
Bird, 21, has spent the past three seasons in the Dodgers organization, including this year at high A-ball. He has a 4.75 ERA in 19 games, making 17 starts.