I think it's pretty safe to say that the Atlanta Braves weren't satisfied with their starting pitching last year. Having already signed veterans R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon, the Braves added a third starter trading for St. Louis Cardinals southpaw Jaime Garcia as reported by ESPN's Mark Saxon. In return, right-handed pitchers Chris Ellis and John Gant and infielder Luke Dykstra will head to St. Louis.
Garcia, 30, has never been a dominant starter but has been a reliable middle of the rotation type of guy in his eight big league seasons with the Cardinals. Garcia posted a 62-45 record with 3.57 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 261 walks and 723 strikeouts. Garcia is however coming off his worst season in the the majors with his highest season ERA at 4.67 and most walks issued since his rookie year.
In return, the Cardinals will receive three prospects, something the Braves have plenty of. The main prospect is Chris Ellis, who slots in 11th on the Braves Top 30 Prospects on MLB.com. Ellis is 24 years of age and is just about major-league ready after pitching well last season in Triple-A Gwinnett. Ellis doesn't throw particularly hard, but offers a good changeup and curve in his arsenal. It is yet to be seen though if he sticks as a starter or moves back to the bullpen.
Alongside Ellis goes the Braves 27th-ranked prospect, right-hander John Gant. Gant, also 24 years old, pitched in 20 games for Atlanta this year including seven starts and ended up with a respectable 4.86 ERA over fifty innings.
Dykstra, son of former player Lenny Dykstra, is the youngest of the trio at just 21 years old and is still only at Single-A ball. Dykstra has no power whatsoever, but does a decent job hitting for contact and getting on base.
The Cardinals clearly didn't see Garcia to fit their plans for the upcoming year, and elected to trade him for three decent prospects in return. The Braves clearly want to be competitive and that's why we see them add yet another arm to their rotation, all before the winter meetings begin next week.