From a structure standpoint, the baseball world witnessed an extremely rare trade tonight.
A team traded a well-established Major Leaguer with tons of cheap, team control. In my now-three years of doing this, I have never seen such a thing. Usually--a better word choice would be "always"--teams want to keep those players to build around. Those players can help them in the future.
But the Braves traded Andrelton Simmons tonight to the Angels.
Simmons is signed through 2020 and is going to be paid just $53 million during the next five seasons, making $10.6 million per year. He is easily the best defensive shortstop in the league and one of the best overall.
Teams drool over having this type of player: a star with undervalued team control.
The Braves have said over and over again that their plan is to contend in 2017 when they open their new ballpark. So, why trade Simmons when he could still be on your team when you are relevant again? He's was not only scheduled to be on that 2017 squad, but also was going to be on the '18, '19, and '20 Braves, too.
Sure, the Braves did get quite a haul for Simmons, and rightly so. With that said, however, prospects are prospects, and Simmons was a tangible Major League talent that, again, would be there in 2017.
Who is to say that the Braves are not selling high? Plenty of things could happen: Simmons could get injured, decline, or not perform in a new place. But, from what we've seen, Simmons is here to stay among the best of the best in the league.
Also, who is to say that these prospects won't pan out? Again, injuries, decline, and not being able to perform in the Major Leagues are obvious concerns there.
I get that the Braves think they have Simmons' future replacement in the Minor Leagues in Ozhaino Albies. And maybe he pans out better than Simmons was. But Albies is just 18 and has never played a game over Class-A. If Aibes was the reason for this move, that's putting a lot on a guy who hasn't even faced the upper minors, let alone the Major Leagues.
Maybe the trade of Andrelton Simmons does turn out in the Braves future. I'm not saying it won't. I'm just thinking that the timing, if anything, just seems interesting in this situation.