Braves and Cardinals make huge trade

Shelby Miller will be joining the Braves 2015 rotation.

The Braves have traded outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden to the St. Louis Cardinals for starting pitcher Shelby Miller and minor league prospect Tyrell Jenkins.

This is the third trade in four days for the Braves, who are obviously tinkering with their roster to compete more in 2017 when the new ballpark opens in Cobb County.

Heyward is set to become a free agent after the 2015 season. The Braves obviously did not believe they would be able to resign Heyward for the long-term. Walden has two more years before he’s eligible for free agency.

Meanwhile, Miller has four more seasons under control before he becomes a free agent. Jenkins is obviously a minor league who has yet to pitch above A-ball, so he’s got six full seasons of major league control.

Miller will join Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Alex Wood in Atlanta’s rotation. Miller was 10-9 last season in 31 starts, with a 3.74 ERA. He allowed 160 hits in 183 innings, with 73 walks and 127 strikeouts. In his rookie season of 2013, Miller was 15-9 and had a 3.06 ERA in 31 starts, with 152 hits allowed in 173.1 innings, 57 walks and 169 strikeouts.

Jenkins had an abbreviated season in 2014 as he returned from shoulder surgery in August 2013. He pitched in 13 games for Palm Beach in High-A and had a 6-5 record with a 3.28 ERA. Jenkins allowed 74 hits in 74 innings, with 23 walks and 41 strikeouts.

Jenkins just finished a stint in the Arizona Fall League and started six games. He was 2-2 with a 2.22 ERA, with 23 hits allowed in 24.1 innings, 10 walks and 18 strikeouts.

Expect Jenkins to be pushed to Double-A Mississippi to start the 2015 season.

While Heyward was a tremendous defender, he never realized his potential offensively after a great start to his career in 2010. Heyward’s power went from 27 home runs in 2012 to 14 in 2013 and then only 11 in 2014. His on base percentage rebounded in 2014 to .351 after hitting a low of .319 in his injury-plagued second season in 2011.

As for right field, the Braves now have several options. They can place Evan Gattis in left field and move Justin Upton to right, where he played in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. Or the team can sign a free agent or make another trade.

Since the Braves traded Heyward, it’s a sign that a trade involving Justin Upton could be next. He is also a free agent after next season and it does not appear the Braves will re-sign him either. Of course, the Braves are desperately trying to trade Justin’s brother B.J. in a deal this winter.

Walden spent two years in the Atlanta bullpen. He had a 2.88 ERA in 58 games this past season. In 2013, Walden had a 3.45 ERA in 50 games. The Braves acquired Arodys Vizcaino Sunday and he is expected to battle for a spot in the Atlanta bullpen next season.

The Braves save around $9 million in salary payroll with this trade.

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