The Braves traded shortstop Andrelton Simmons Thursday night to the Los Angeles Angels for veteran shortstop Erick Aybar and top minor league pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis. The Braves also sent minor league catcher Jose Briceno to the Angels in the trade, while Atlanta receives cash to offset the difference in the 2016 salaries of Aybar and Simmons.
This will shock some Braves fans who have seen other stars leave Atlanta in the last 12 months. But the Braves believed Simmons had significant value and offered the team a chance to get a great return.
Newcomb and Ellis were rated as the Angels’ top two prospects by MLB.com prior to the trade. Newcomb takes over as Atlanta’s new number one prospect, according to MLB.com, while Ellis slides in at number eight.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old Aybar is a 10-year veteran. He was an All-Star in 2014. Last season, Aybar hit .270 with three home runs, 44 RBI, 15 stolen bases, 30 doubles and a .301 on base percentage. Aybar led off in 51 games for the Angels last season, but mostly hit 5th (56 games) and also significant at bats as the number six hitter (44 games).
Aybar can be a free agent after the 2016 season. He is scheduled to make $8.5 million, and the Angels will pay $2.5 million of that to even out the trade. The Braves could flip Aybar, and GM John Coppolella admitted in his Thursday night conference call he has already received three phone calls from teams interested in trading for Aybar.
Simmons has been a defensive wiz since he debuted in 2012 with the Braves. He is considered the best defensive player at any position in baseball, despite not winning the Gold Glove this season for shortstop.
But the Braves were concerned with Simmons’ offense, as he hit just .265 last season and since his rookie year has hit just .252. Simmons’ career average is at .256 now, with a .304 on base percentage.
With numerous teams calling the Braves on Simmons, it became obvious Thursday morning a trade would happen. The Braves believe Ozzie Albies, who will turn 19 in January and just finished Low-A last season, could be ready sometime in 2017 to take over at shortstop.
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