As for 2016, Atlanta probably isn't any worse off than it was 24 hours ago. Erick Aybar is a solid middle infielder at an affordable $8.5 million, which is really just $6 million thanks to the cash Los Angeles threw into the deal. Assuming the Braves don't flip Aybar to another team, he should produce similarly to Simmons. Don't believe me? Check out their stats the last two seasons (h/t: @TheFantasyFix)
The move also frees up money for Atlanta after 2016. Simmons, while a wizard defensively, has not improved the way many hoped for at the plate. Defense tends to regress as a player ages, too. And while he's at a reasonable $6 million next season, he will see a substantial pay raise from 2017-2020, where he'll earn $47 million over four years. That's not cheap.
I'm going to miss the hell out of watching Simmons play defense. I'm not going to miss the constant weak-contact at the plate where he'd get off-balance and way in front of breaking balls. I think he'll be just fine in Anaheim. Angels fans are in for a treat every other half-inning.
The real reason for this deal is the future.
Sean Newcomb is an absolute stud.
In a system loaded with pitching prospects, Newcomb may just be the best one.
He's huge -- 6'5, 245 pounds -- with a mid-90s fastball and two plus breaking pitches. Command has been a bit of an issue in the past, but he's a legitimate No. 1 prospect. He struck out 168 batters in 136 innings. He surrendered more than five hits ONCE in 27 starts in 2015. I'm not sure I'd be able to put those numbers up on MLB: The Show. There's a decent chance we refer to this as the Sean Newcomb trade in a couple years.
Add Newcomb's name alongside the likes of Shelby Miller, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, Lucas Sims, Touki Toussaint, Matt Wisler and others, and it's hard not to get excited. Or at least not get excited about the prospect of the Braves winning a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games in a few years.
Chris Ellis, the other prospect sent in the deal, is also pretty darn good. The deal also clears the way for Ozhaino Albies; the Braves better pray he's the real deal.
All of this is to say, I'm fine with the trade. I don't love it, but I don't hate it, either.
The Braves were going to be bad in 2016 regardless of what they did this winter, and swapping Aybar for Simmons doesn't change that much. Newcomb is yet another high-upside power-arm for John Coppolella to play with. Ellis could be good, too. And the team clears $47 million after next year.
At some point the Braves are going to have to find some hitters. There's no better way to do that than by having money and pitching prospects.