Cardinals deal Miller to Braves for Gold Glove outfielder Heyward
ST. LOUIS -- In a bold attempt to shore up right field, the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward from the Atlanta Braves on Monday. The Cardinals dealt from a position of strength, sending starting pitcher Shelby Miller to Atlanta.
Cardinals pitcher Tyrell Jenkins, a top minor-league prospect, also was dealt to the Braves, while the Cardinals obtained pitcher Jordan Walden along with Heyward to complete the four-player deal.
Heyward, 25, made his major-league debut in 2010, when he made the National League All-Star team and finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting (to the Giants' Buster Posey) after batting a career-high .277 with 18 homers and 72 RBI. His best season was 2012, when he hit .269 with career highs in homers (27), RBI (82) and stolen bases (21). The left-handed hitter is coming off a season in which he batted .271 with 11 homers, 58 RBI and 20 steals. He has batted .262 with 84 home runs and 292 RBI in his career.
Heyward, a two-time Gold Glove winner, also was a finalist this year behind Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in Rawlings Platinum Glove voting for the best defensive player in the league. Heyward led NL right fielders in putouts and assists in both 2012 and 2014.
The Cardinals tried a number of players in right field last season, starting with Allen Craig, who was traded during the season to Boston. That created opportunities for Oscar Taveras and later Randal Grichuk, both of whom had their moments but neither of whom nailed down the job.
Walden, 27, is a right-handed reliever who led the Los Angeles Angels with 32 saves in 2011, when he was an American League All-Star. The Angels traded him to Atlanta after the 2012 season. Walden led the Braves with 20 holds last season while striking out 62 batters in 50 innings.
Miller, 24, was a mainstay in the Cardinals' rotation the last two seasons, winning 15 games as a rookie and 10 games last season while recording an ERA below 3.75 both years. The emergence of Michael Wacha in 2013 pushed him out of a playoff role that October, but he made two postseason starts last season without earning a decision in either one.
The Cardinals have a number of options for their 2015 rotation, which appears set in the top four spots with ace Adam Wainwright, Wacha, Lance Lynn and John Lackey. Youngsters Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales and Tyler Lyons are among the possibilities to replace Miller, along with left-handed veteran Jaime Garcia.