The San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves completed a blockbuster trade yesterday, sending both Craig Kimbrel and Melvin "BJ" Upton Jr. westbound.
In return, the Braves received two Major League outfielders in Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin. Pitching prospect Matt Wisler and outfield prospect Jordan Paroubeck also head to Atlanta as part of the deal. Finally, the Braves get the 41st overall selection in the 2015 draft.
It's quite fitting that the Padres make the final move of the offseason after making a flurry of moves (and that's putting it lightly) throughout the past six months. They've pretty much revamped their entire club, with the likes of Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, James Shields, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks already joining the team this offseason. Kimbrel is a huge addition for this team that looks to knock the Dodgers and Giants out of playoff glory.
Melvin Upton Jr.--formerly known as BJ Upton--will serve as the fourth outfielder in what is likely to be among the most talented outfields in the Majors, playing alongside his brother Justin, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp. However, he's a very expensive fourth outfielder, as Upton is due $46.35 million over the next three seasons.
No cash will be transferred as part of the deal. The Padres will take the entirety of Upton's contract.
The only way that the Padres were able to get the best closer in the game in Kimbrel was by acquiring Upton along with him, GM A.J. Preller said via Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
The Braves received the Padres' No. 1 pitching prospect in Matt Wisler. Wisler projects to be a mid- to end-of-the-rotation starter with some upside. He's almost Major League ready and was in the Padres' big league camp to begin Spring Training. Baseball America ranked him as the 34th best prospect in the game. Last season, the 22-year-old Wisler pitched as high as Triple-A, going 9-5 with a 5.01 ERA in a very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
The outfield prospect the Braves will be getting goes by the name of Jordan Paroubeck. Paroubeck is a 20-year-old toolsy outfielder with the general consensus being that he's still raw. He went to the same high school as Barry Bonds and receives instruction from him. Last season, Paroubeck played in just 34 games with the Padres' Rookie Level affiliate due to injury.
Cameron Maybin represents the last main return piece for the Atlanta Braves. He returns home to the South and to starting in the outfield, as he is from Asheville, North Carolina and will be taking over the Braves' center field job. Maybin has spent four years with the Padres, but hasn't had a healthy 500 plate appearances since 2012 and has only had 500 PA twice. Last year, the speedster (Maybin stole 40 bases in 2011), hit .235/.290/.331 in 272 plate appearances.
The Braves also received outfielder Carlos Quentin, but designated him for assignment. They likely agreed to receive him as a salary dump for the Padres, who got rid of his $8.3 million guaranteed. The Braves will pay his contract.
Obviously, Craig Kimbrel is the centerpiece of this deal. Kimbrel is a phenomenal closer and gives the Padres the best bullpen in baseball, with him and Joaquin Benoit serving as the closer and set-up man, respectively. Kimbrel has led the National League in saves in each of the past four years, saving 46, 42, 50, and 47 games. His ERA has not been over 1.61 in the past three years, and he has struck out an average of 109 hitters per season since 2011 in just an average of 67 innings. Calling him good would be an understatement.
It's hard to know who got the better of the deal and we probably won't know for years, at least until after Wisler and Paroubeck develop. Some believe that the Braves underpaid for such a good player in Kimbrel, while others, like myself, really like their return. The real two wild cards in this deal are Paroubeck and that 41st overall pick in this year's draft. The Braves, who are deep in rebuilding, needed to unload Kimbrel for prospects, but it's hard to know if the prospects they got will be good enough to satisfy a return.
From the Padres point of view, they just got the best closer in baseball. Plain and simple. They had to take on a big payroll addition with the addition of Upton Jr., but when it's all set and done, this deal makes their team much better on paper.