Only one side of Olivera-Wood trade is around for Braves-Dodgers series

Braves general manager John Coppolella (left) and manager Fredi Gonzalez sit in the dugout at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. before speaking with the media after outfielder Hector Olivera was arrested when a woman accused him of assault and battery. (AP photo)

Braves general manager John Coppolella (left) and manager Fredi Gonzalez sit in the dugout at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. before speaking with the media after outfielder Hector Olivera was arrested when a woman accused him of assault and battery. (AP photo)

Consider the stock market the financial world’s version of the major league baseball standings, because in either case the public sees the word, “Braves,” and thinks, “Feh.”

So it was that when the Braves hit the stock market for the first time Monday with an opening price of $36 per share, investors walked in the other direction — probably to spring football. As Tim Tucker writes, Liberty Braves Group’s Series A shares never rose above the asking price and “plummeted quickly and closed at $19.95 — down 44.6 percent” from the opening price.

If Wall Street has a playoff system, Braves’ stock will be eliminated from contention before the All-Star break.

Olivera-Hector

Hector Olivera’s police mugshot after his arrest, via Arlington, Va., police.

I bring this up for two reasons: 1) I thought it was funny; 2) If some people look sideways when trying to see the Braves’ future, it’s at least in part because of the Hector Olivera trade. The Braves (3-9, though on a three-game winning streak) acquired Olivera from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team, multi-player deal last July 30, in which they gave up young lefthanded starter Alex Wood.

The Braves play the Dodgers tonight at Turner Field. Wood starts for the Dodgers. Olivera sits for the Braves. But at least he’s out on bail.

I didn’t understand the trade at the time the Braves’ John Hart and John Coppolella made it. Unlike other deals, in which the  Braves and owner Liberty Media — a Fortune 500 company, so they always make the playoffs — wanted to dump impending free agents and blow up the payroll, Wood should have been considered a keeper. He was young (25) and good (3.10 ERA in his first two-plus major-league seasons) and cheap ($530,000 this season). He’s not eligible for free agency until 2020.

Wood hasn’t been great for the Dodgers: 1-1, 4.50 this year; 6-7, 4.37 since the trade. He had a strikeout/walk ratio of 337/108 Strikeouts (3.12 to 1) with the Braves. He’s at 55/28 (1.96-1) with L.A. But I think I’d rather bank on his future right now than Olivera’s.

Olivera, as you know, was shelved indefinitely by major league baseball until there’s some resolution in his assault and battery case. He was arrested during last week’s series against Washington in Arlington, Va., after a woman accused him of assault. The woman had bruises and was treated at an Arlington hospital for injuries, according to police.

I attempted to obtain some details on the investigation this week, via the Freedom of Information Act, but was told further information is being withheld pending the investigation. But according to police: “A female victim alleged that a male suspect assaulted her. The female victim had minor injuries such as visible bruising. As a result of the subsequent investigation, Hector Olivera, was arrested and charged with assault and battery.”

Olivera isn’t like most “rookies.” He is 31 years old, and therefore has to develop quickly, as I wrote about here during spring training. Hart and Coppolella believed they were getting a sweet deal because the Dodgers had already outbid every other team and paid Olivera a $28 million signing bonus. But the fact is the Braves remain on the hook for more than $32 million in salary through 2020, and early returns on their investment are not good.

There’s something else about the trade that always has bothered me: The Dodgers were so convinced Olivera would be a prize signing that they gave him a huge contract and signing bonus. What was it that made them suddenly change their mind … only two months later … to the extent that they would eat a $28 million signing bonus?

I didn’t like the deal then. I certainly don’t like it now.

And $19.95 a share is still too high.

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

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30 comments
HotDawg
HotDawg

Baseball is becoming like the nfl criminals.

Demographic changes keep pushing the statistics higher.

The Gipper
The Gipper

The Braves dodged a bullet by getting rid of Wood.  Even if he is a relative bargain compared to Olivera, he's done.  He's had significant arm troubles, his velocity and movement have slipped considerably over the past few years, and his mechanics, which were problematic to begin with, are now a complete mess.  If that's not enough, he's beginning to look like a prime example of someone developing early-onset Steve Blass syndrome, and we all know how terminal a diagnosis that can be on a pitching career (just ask Mark Wohlers). 

What I can't figure out is why MLB, or the Braves for that matter, need more time to decide Olivera's judgment.  This is Major League Baseball not the supreme court.  If the fight had happened on the field, say against another player, both organizations would have had no problem ejecting the offending party, suspending him for seven games WITHOUT pay, and fining him substantially.  Yet, as it stands, the Braves organization is stuck paying an abusive, alcoholic, communist to not do the only thing that's stipulated in his contract while MLB figures out if they can stake their gilded reputation on the testimony of a woman. It's despicable on all fronts. 

If I were the Braves front office, I would be proactive on this, and kick Olivera to the curb.  The longer they wait, the more they risk the whole ordeal becoming a real P.R. issue. I don't care how good he's supposed to be, or how much money they'll potentially owe him, They need to set the precedent that behavior of a certain kind can not be tolerated in professional baseball, or sports for that matter. 

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

This trade was entirely an ego trip for the Braves front office - they got outbid when Olivera had first "hit the market" and getting him later made them feel like they had accomplished something great.


I also would have preferred Wood (note he was also an ex-Bulldog) over at least 3 of our current starters.  I think this trade was as bad as when we gave up Wainwright to the Cardinals for a soon-to-be free agent.

BlawgDawg
BlawgDawg

Any chance there is a clause in Olivera's contract that could release the Braves from it if his legal issues are judged serious enough?


GaLatino
GaLatino

 THANK YOU!!!! 


I'd also like to add that the Braves' winning started almost immediately after his absence from the team began...

Karson
Karson

I sooooo agree!  Just when they were finally able to dump Melvin"don't call me BJ" Upton's contract they turn around and take on a 31 year old dawg like Olivera.  I think Castro kept Olivera in Cuba and slipped MLB another boat person.  Horrible trade!


Gary Kirkland
Gary Kirkland

Just like Uggla and Bj Upton Olivera is a bust.

DamonH
DamonH

arrested now ... who knows, maybe a couple of PED convictions later and he's gone from baseball for life

Big Wally
Big Wally

Schuerholtz has been 'mailing' it for the last 15 years.  Hart as a GM has never put together a team with sustainable good results.  Coppy is just a fantasy baseball geek.

Bravesfan54
Bravesfan54

Mr. Schultz, your piece is so on the mark!


iamthebagman2
iamthebagman2

@JeffSchultzAJC Felt the same way. Braves gave up LH starter, best lefty reliever, closer and top prospect for 31 yr. old Cuban rookie?

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

This GM and Manager should be fired.


Whoever is running the Braves these days....is pathetic.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Hart and company know more than I do about trading players and getting a return on trades, but I have my own ideas about baseball trades. I was more concerned about trading Gattis, a crowd favorite, than trading Simmons who would probably be a lifetime .230 hitter. Gattis on the other hand will probably have a few 40 homerun seasons. For a team that can't score runs, and they have no prospect of note in their near future that might help in that area, why trade a big bat for unknown futures. I could understand trading Kimbrell. If they kept him, under the circumstances of the team now, he would have had nothing to save, and I think they got rid of BJ in that deal. Markakis, Freeman, and Gattis back to back would have been a formidable threesome for any pitcher to face. I'm only a fan with a little baseball savvy and management doesn't make trades to please me.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TideDawg The only issue with Gattis would be what position he could play in the field. In Houston he has been used exclusively as a DH. I am happy for him that he is at least playing for a contender ,and contributing to their success.

Bravesfan54
Bravesfan54

@TideDawg They read too many of those "hitless wonders" stories from the past and overly bought into such pithy aphorisms like "pitching is the name of the game".  Of course, we know it is not that simple.  The whole scheme of new faces, new hopes, new stadium, dump salaries is predicated on "not sucking" in 2017 (the tag-line formerly known as "We Intend to Be Competitive in our new park").  What is sadly vastly under-emphasized is just how hamstrung the Braves are and will continue to be with their limited tv-rights money!  That hole in their budget line, together with a few very bad contracts, has resulted in the mis-managed rebuild decisions of the Hart-Coppy era.

jamsess
jamsess

@TideDawg  To me, it all started with the trade of Martin Prado, a solid 2b/3B/Hitter/Clubhouse Gem!  What a horrible decision~!

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Schultzie,

Unless Zach Bird or Paco Rodriguez make some kind of contribution to the Braves this will be considered another total bust for Hart and Coppy and another $30 + million of dead payroll. A move that would rival the worst of the Frank Wren Era with the Braves.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

First. I'd rather have kept Woody. Left hander, young and a Dawg.