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.