If the dark underworld of social media is any indication, Braves fans are not happy about the trade that sent starting pitcher Jaime Garcia to the Minnesota Twins for an obscure young pitcher with the most confusing name in the history of the world (Huascar Ynoa. I copy/pasted from the press release rather than attempt to spell.)
Ynoa is not one of the Twins’ top 10 prospects. (I write that as someone who considers prospect rankings only slightly more reliable than recruiting rankings; therefore, I don’t obsess over either). The 19-year-old Dominican right hander has started six games this season in rookie ball and has a 5.26 ERA, allowing .277 batting average with a 1.64 WHIP in 25.2 innings. So yeah, nothing screams: SAVIOR!
But let’s be real here: They traded Jaime Garcia.
What did you expect the Braves to get in return? This is not the left hander who went 10-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 2015. When the Braves acquired Garcia in the winter, he was coming off a 2016 season when his ERA ballooned to 4.67 and his WHIP increased from 1.049 to 1.375.
This season was actually better than could have been expected: 4.30 (1.319 WHIP). He even hit a grand slam in his last start against Los Angeles. But he’s still a rental player and a bottom-of-the-rotation starter. That’s it.
Without possibly knowing what Ynoa will amount to, let me respond to some of the concerns I’ve seen on Twitter:
• Some are throwing out the term “salary dump.” It’s true Garcia was making a healthy salary at $12 million. But there’s roughly two months left in the season. When teams look to dump contracts, it’s with full seasons remaining — usually multiple seasons. B.J. Upton was a salary dump. Garcia is not.
• Some believe general manager John Coppolella should have gotten more in return. Really? Based on what? Even if there were multiple teams interested in Garcia, it doesn’t mean multiple teams were offering a lot. Without knowing the particulars of the offers, it’s reasonable to assume Ynoa was considered a more valuable asset than whatever players other teams were offering. There’s no conceivable reason the Braves would take a lesser offer.
• Some ask a reasonable question: If this was all Coppolella could get in return for Garcia, catcher Anthony Recker and “cash considerations,” why make the deal at all?
The answer is simple: You may want to sit down for this. The season is over.
The Braves can’t legitimately claim that Garcia is a worse pitching option than whoever takes his place in the rotation (probably Lucas Sims). What that tells you is it’s more important to them to get a look at Sims (and possible Kris Medlen) than it is to stick with Garcia, who they’re not re-signing after the season anyway.
If Braves’ management seriously believed the team was still in the chase for a National League wild card berth, they would not have made this trade. But they don’t. And they shouldn’t. And because of that, expect more veteran departures before the July 31 trade deadline.
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