Braves’ deal saves budget (Upton) but drives nail in season (Kimbrel)

This is the last time you’ll see this Craig Kimbrel pose in a Braves’ uniform. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

This is the last time you'll see this Craig Kimbrel pose in a Braves' uniform. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

This is the last time you’ll see this Craig Kimbrel pose in a Braves’ uniform. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

For months, the Braves have insisted that they hadn’t bagged all hope for the 2015 season, despite trading Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis for mostly prospects, a decoder ring and a lucky horseshoe.

Team executive John Hart assured us that closer Craig Kimbrel would not be dealt, because that, you know, would just be sending the wrong message.

On Sunday, the eve of the Braves’ season opener, Kimbrel was traded.

There’s your message. It goes like this: There’s no reason to have the game’s best closer when there are going to be so few games to close.

There was an upside to Hart’s latest swing of the wrecking ball: He eliminated the worst mistake of Frank Wren’s career as Braves’ general manager, trading Melvin/B.J. Upton to San Diego. The Padres are now responsible for the remaining three years and $46 million on Upton’s contract.

This will make the accounting department very happy.

I wonder how many tickets they’ll buy?

The six-player trade sent Kimbrel and Upton to the Padres, thereby reuniting the Upton brothers. Maybe that novelty will work better in San Diego. The Padres had acquired Justin Upton from the Braves for prospects in December. In return, the Braves get major league junk (outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin), two minor-leaguers and the 41st pick in the draft.

There’s obviously an element of addition-by-subtraction for tomorrow with Upton’s exit. But Kimbrel’s exit is a major hit. Hart could have waited until the trade deadline to set up a possible bidding war for Kimbrel among contenders. But there probably would’ve been less of a chance that he would be able to get a team to take Upton, too, which obviously was the primary objective here.

The objective certainly wasn’t about winning games in 2015. That hasn’t been the case the entire offseason.

For more on Braves season: Click here for an updated column expanding on the Braves’ decision to rebuild with youth. And click here for a column on low expectations.


Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Trade reaffirms Braves’ decision to go backward before forward
— MyAJC: With expectations low, at least Braves won’t underachieve
— AJC: Hawks’ biggest nightmare: Millsap suffers shoulder injury
— MyAJC: Hawks’ turnaround started with trade of Joe Johnson — and he knows it
— AJC: (Updated) Hank Haney was right — Tiger Woods to play in Masters
— AJC: Braves’ deal for Trevor Cahill illustrates concerns about rotation
— MyAJC: Real news would be Tiger Woods making shots
— AJC: Tiger Woods’ plane in Augusta but status for Masters still uncertain
— AJC: Are Braves really second-worst team in majors (thank you, Philly)?
— AJC: Falcons will pay appropriate penalties for dumb decision
— MyAJC: Paul Millsap: The 6-8 kid who couldn’t dunk now leading Hawks
— AJC: Hawks clinch East, act like it’s no big deal (which is probably good)
— MyAJC: NBA needs to curtail resting of players
— AJC: Will Falcons, others avoid losing draft picks this year?
— MyAJC: Basketball is where Georgia State’s focus should be
— AJC: New reality at Georgia State: What Ron Hunter wants, he gets
— MyAJC: Hawks get drilled, and concerns may be growing
— MyAJC: Georgia better but still not where it needs to be
— AJC: Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament
— MyAJC: Gregory knows he needs to make most of his extended lifeline
— AJC: Gregory says he gave Izzo ‘everything’ he has on Georgia
— AJC: Timing is everything, as Tech keeps Gregory
— AJC: Tech expected to keep Gregory, but former coach (Hewitt) fired again
— MyAJC: Column on Quinn, Dimitroff defending moves, philosophy
— AJC: Exclusive: Q&A with Quinn, Dimitroff on Falcons’ moves
— MyAJC: Tech’s candidate pool may be thin if Gregory fired
— AJC: Tech’s decision on Brian Gregory tougher than you might think
— MyAJC: Georgia erratic but ceiling high in tournament
— AJC: NCAA tourney: Dogs should be in, Panthers must do a little more
— MyAJC: Georgia State at center of state’s hoops’ rebirth

Reader Comments 0

171 comments
Michael K. McMahan
Michael K. McMahan

So what happens when we stop going to the games and don't watch them on TV?  They're going to be the Florida Marlins of the next decade.  They saved a lot of payroll but I'm betting they lost 10,000 season tickets at their fancy new stadium.  I may turn my allegiance to the Washington Nationals...just a little farther from my Charlotte area home, but a much better managed franchise. My wife and I have been regulars at Braves spring training for two decades.  We left this one feeling frustrated and betrayed.  Of course we got to watch Brian McCann hit a double and a homerun for the Yankees. Gattis, Heyward, J. Upton, a bullpen full of good pitchers, all gone.  And that was before the Craig Kimbrel deal. Frustration grew to anger, but now we are just sad.

scorpian527
scorpian527

So they cut off their nose, in spite of the face

Wilbo
Wilbo

Please, please, please, please, PLEASE do not under any circumstances purchase any single ticket, item, cap, T-shirt, ANYTHING that might in any way subsidize the current ownership of the Atlanta Braves.


I'm hoping for about 52-110, and I think that would serve this disgustingly inept organization perfectly.


If you care at all about about Atlanta and/or the Braves, help drive this useless, community damaging organization to its financial knees.


DO NOT SPEND ONE RED CENT ON THE ATLANTA BRAVES UNTIL THIS OWNERSHIP IS DRIVEN AWAY!!!

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@Wilbo "community damaging organization"


I'm still reserving that distinction for the Hawks ownership (Thrashers). Braves have been a playoff team multiple times in Liberty's tenure, and even if I were a billionaire I'd have a hard time signing Upton Jr. paychecks.


Jury remains out on whether the Braves game-day experience is better in Cobb. I like Turner Field but at times it's been a difficult and somewhat dangerous place (talking traffic here) to get in and out of. I am more than a bit skeptical the Cobb location traffic and parking will be any better, but we'll see.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@Stingshuh? Yours, if you live in Atlanta. The yearly embarrassment of choking like dogs in the playoffs, degrades the national image of a city.


Whether anybody believes that or not, it makes a difference not only in a city's self image, but it also encourages whether or not companies relocate to or add offices and retail outlets in any given location. 


In the early years, 91, 93, 93, 94, 95, the Braves success was a big growth magnet. Then the return of the Loserville image around 1998 - 2000 had a big negative growth effect. 


A successful pro sports image can do a lot to build a city. A negative image can and will hurt in more ways than a person might imagine. 


There was a good article in (if I remember right) Investor's Business Weekly right around 1996. I'll see if I can find it. AJC had a piece or 2 as well back then.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@DawgDadII Losing games & $ now, isn't going to help the amount of $ and planning and determination that go into setting up traffic, parking, safety, amenities....


Wilbo
Wilbo

@Stingshuh?  Ask the dimwit that wrote this column about AJC articles on the Braves positive effect on financial growth in the mid 90's.


He won't respond to me (and the way I justly flame his goofy butt, who would blame him)

HeyThere
HeyThere

@Wilbo @DawgDadII Hey man y'all can get in and out of Turner field easy now. Probably no lines at the concession stands and you can kick your legs out on the empty chair in front of you. LOL

RoderickRootenbagel
RoderickRootenbagel

@Wilbo I will be joining you in doing (or not doing) the same. Braves have broke my heart for the last time. Its like they cant wait to get rid of fan favorites!! All the way back to David Justice. A "trade" I believe has cursed the Braves franchise.

sea8491
sea8491

@Wilbo Sir, I agree with you 100%.


Sir, do not forget that the current managment is inept, a new owner would not keep these clowns.


Despite the uncomitted owners, better mangement still could have won.


The man at the top needs to do and his first name is John.

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

The trade saved more than budget. It created the opportunity for someone to fill a black hole in the lineup and on the bench, one that sucks the life out of the team. I didn't think that Hart would be able to pull it off.

gulfwavesgary
gulfwavesgary

I do know I will not visit Turner field this year. Not knowing almost all players without a program, and visiting a team in a neighborhood  where multiple crimes and shootings are everyday happenings. I will hope by the time the Braves move to Cobb county they will be offering a competitive team. I do agree that the braves had to be rebuilt. Frank Wren was a idiot. I really hated losing Gattis and Craig. BJ Upton had to go.

C. Diff
C. Diff

The Braves are simply looking to the future. They're done in 'Thug-lanta' so they'll just play out their last 2 seasons without fanfare, but looking and building toward their first season in Cobb. Sort of like being in spring training for 2 years. Watch for a "much improved team" to win 100 games the first season in Cobb.  The uninformed will say "It's a miracle" but in reality it's just business.

Reidtt
Reidtt

Quit crying people. The Marlins won 2 world series using mostly rookie, farm players. Kimbrell would cost too much and I doubt he would have ANY save opportunities for the next two years. The money we will save from dumping Upton will allow us to sign some actual quality players. A closer isn't that hard to find these days.

Michael K. McMahan
Michael K. McMahan

@Reidtt It is true that the Marlins won two World Series and then dismantled those teams.  But nobody went to their games then, nor do they now.  You can't just throw away great players and retain any team loyalty.  I remember how excited we were the first time we saw nineteen year old Jason Heyward in spring training and how much we loved watching Brian McCann battle left handed pitching.  The fans follow the players.  Send all of your great players away and the fans will follow.

sea8491
sea8491

@Reidtt Sir are you factoring in the following?


Kimbrel grew up as a Brave

Kimbrel wanted to remain a Brave

Kimbrel is entering his prime

Kimbrel was signed for 4 years at a reasoable price

Kimbrel was a class act

Kimbrel was a fan favorite

Kimbrel will be in the hall of fame

our new Schuerholz clone, John Hart, claims the braves will be comeptitive in 2 years

Braves will not score many runs so a great closer would be important

sea8491
sea8491

@pbond3 did you see highlights of the padre/dodger game yesterday?


Do you think Jiummy Rollins would have hit that game winning home run off Kimbrel?


Never can tell, but I do nto think so?

Baghead
Baghead

"Major league junk"??  Wisler is one of the top starting pitcher prospects in all of MLB you moron.  Quentin and Maybin were throw ins that we had to accept as part of the negotiation.  Now that we have gotten rid of a majority of Wren's mistakes, bolstered our farm system more than 10x increased our liquidity, maybe the next step is to eliminate O'Brien, Bradley and Schultz from the AJC and get a few real writers who perform real research and analysis in here.  Yet another pathetic article from the AJC sports desk.  This deal had to be done.  Stop whining because Hart is cleaning up the mess from the guy that you continuously supported over the last five years.  Funny how your article is in complete contradiction to people like Chipper who actually understand baseball and even basic finance.  

sea8491
sea8491

@Baghead Sir, are you forgetting that John Shuerhoplz is still sitting at the top of the Brave Heiarchy?


How has he worked out since 1990?

Indydawg
Indydawg

The traffic problem may not be as bad as I thought the first few years of the new stadium... We might not have a competitive enough team...

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

If John Hart's moves are based on watching the team last September and writing out paychecks, being reasonable now, who can blame him?


For the moment (pending the next trade) the Braves still have a Major League infield and their starting pitching could be good-to-very-good. The bullpen is full of question marks, but bullpens are never a sure thing year-to-year. The biggest problem with the team today figures to be the outfield; now that BJ/Melvin is off the books Hart would serve the fans well to pick up a solid veteran along the way, maybe rent a guy going to free agency at the end of the season.

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

"For months, the Braves have insisted that they hadn’t bagged all hope for the 2015 season, despite trading........"


What part of finishing below .500 last season with Kimbrel, Heyward, Upton, Gattis do many here not understand? It was a dysfunctional bunch and needed to be revamped with or without a new stadium, something 20+ clubs face each year. The 14 straight division titles will never be repeated [or anything close to it] because Glavin, Smoltz, and Maddux will never happen again. Welcome to the real world. And, no, we didn't need Kimbrel tying up millions for an every 5-7 game appearance--flames and rock anthems included--when many successful clubs change closers like they change underwear. Good move by Hart and we'll be able to judge it objectively after a few seasons. Lets play ball!

Baghead
Baghead

@pbond3 @Maggot_Man Agreed.  There are few of us on here on that can make sense of this trade.  The fact is that this deal had to be done.  Wren decimated our farm system and spent us into a financial abyss.  Great move.  Unfortunately, O'Brien, Bradley and Schultz are too simple minded to understand just how good this deal is.  

pbond3
pbond3

@Baghead 


Just amazing how many people cant see the forest cause there are so many trees blocking their view.


metitotktodd
metitotktodd

So why even see a game at Turner Field when you've got a lame duck team at a lame duck stadium?  Makes no sense.  You're just throwing your money away.  The Braves should just take the next few seasons off and then just return at the new stadium in 2017 when they're ready to spend money again.  Turner Field should and will feel like a morgue this year.

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

@metitotktodd Yeah, if you're not a baseball fan and go so you can see the flames on the jumbo tron every 5-7 games when Kimbrel would trot out. 20+ teams each MLB season have little to no chance to be playing in October and many of those attract about 3 mil at the gate.

Curious_George
Curious_George


Didn't John Hart pledge the Braves were still going to be competitive THIS year (2015) ?



Teamo90s
Teamo90s

I hope our pitching will step up.  I think our starters are underrated and flying under the radar, but the first four guys all have all-star potentials.


Plus I can't imagine hitting possibly any worse than it was last year.  I'm willing to give these guys a chance.

JSSN
JSSN

@Teamo90s

Go look up the name Pat Rockett his draft position and tell us "I'can't imagine hitting possibly any worse that it was last year!"

pbond3
pbond3

The "save" stat is the most overrated stat in the game. A guy can come in with men on 1st and 2nd, no outs in a tie game in the 7th, and retire the side with no runs. Then the Braves (or whomever) can rally for a 2 or 3 run lead, for example, and the closer arrives in the 9th with the bases empty and allows 1 or no runs, and somehow he "saves" the game. You tell me, who really saved that game?

Whens the last time you saw any closer (not just Braves) come in a game with anyone on base? Back in 2007, a pitcher actually got a save in a 30-3 Rangers win over the Orioles, which pretty much explains what a useless stat it is.

pbond3
pbond3

 Losing even the best closer doesn't drive a nail in anyones season. Few years ago when Mariano Rivera went down in spring training, the Yankees made the playoffs with him throwing nary a pitch. Giants in 2012 lost ace closer Brian Wilson in April for the rest of the season, and all they did was win the Series.

'Nuff said.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

@pbond3  Well, not really 'Nuff said', since the Braves are not going to be contender for anything but last place in their division.  This is not a team that will be anything but weak.  "Nuff said' is that the Phillies may now be a better team than the Braves.

pbond3
pbond3

@Quackmeyer 

I know, and I was commenting re: that the loss of a closer puts a nail in the season. The examples I mentioned show it does not.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

Once the Hawks season is over, sports in this town is gonna Suck until football season.  

Wilbo
Wilbo

@BravesFan79 It will suck during football season as well. 


Don't be surprised if the end of the Hawks' season sux more than anything else

cloudodust
cloudodust

Well, the early theory regarding 2015 was that Kimbrel would gather dust out in the Pen anyway. Be that as it may,the Blown Saves stat for the Braves will be an interesting one to watch this season. Who knows, maybe some good will come out of this move besides finally dumping Melvin.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

Really sad, all this trading away our favorite players all over a PLAYER MOST FANS DIDNT EVEN WANT!!    I have no idea who this team is anymore, the Gwinette Braves?   We have enough $$ to build some lavish stadium but not keep the greatest closer in the game!??

They are gonna loose revenue big time trading Gattis and Kimbrel.  

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Atlanta folks need to spend their entertainment $ cheering The Jackets on at Bobby Dodd on Saturdays, anyway.

Vidkun
Vidkun

The Braves were so desperate to unload the suffocating B.J. Upton contract that they traded away the greatest closer of this era. I hope Matt Wisler has one heck of a ML career or he'll be the answer to a trivia question for decades to come. This should show anyone who still doubts, it's not about winning baseball, it's about the money. This is part of the strategy to juice up profits as they transition to Cobb County.

doktrt
doktrt

I would like the trade if they could somehow included Brian Gregory. As for getting San Diego's top prospect. Remember all the great Padre prospects over the years. Me neither.

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

Hart would've had to be a total retard to not pull the trigger on this deal...as much as Wren was for bringing that useless riffraff to Atl in the first place when nobody else in baseball was even bidding for his service.  This was a no-lose, no-downside deal for us. Period.