The Jason Heyward trade was one year ago today. It hurt like hell at the time, not just because it was saying goodbye to a homegrown outfielder, but it was also the first big step towards a Braves rebuild.
One year later, the Braves and Cardinals should be pretty pleased with their swap.
Heyward was Heyward in 2015, and I mean that with the utmost admiration. He hit .293/.359/.439 with 13 homers, 23 steals and 60 RBI. His 121 wRC+ was a few ticks above his career average. He continued to play phenomenal defense and was a terror on the base paths. I missed watching him going first-to-third on a single.
Heyward was a 6-WAR player, making him the sixth-most valuable player in the National League. He's a stud. No one expected anything less. He was terrific in right field for baseball's best regular season club.
The issue now, of course, is that Heyward is about to become an insanely rich man. Few players with Heyward's rare five-tool game hit the open market, let alone ones who won't turn 27 until next summer. Heyward's going to see at least $180 million with the potential to get up to $200+ million.
The Braves knew this payday would be coming a year ago, hence the trade. And if the early returns are any indication, John Coppolella and John Hart should be happy with their first major deal.
Shelby Miller's phenomenal 2015 campaign included an unfathomable winless streak that reached historic levels. He was an out away from a no-hitter in May as he diced up the Marlins. He was the All-Star Game representative for Atlanta. He's cheap and under control for another three seasons. And he has a bright future.
I'm incredibly intrigued by who Shelby is moving forward. He now has a career 3.22 ERA, and it's 2.99 since the 2014 All-Star Game. That would be ace-like. However, Miller's career FIP stands at 3.82 after 575 innings. If he can become one of those guys who routinely outperforms his peripheral numbers -- the way Matt Cain and Tim Hudson have done for years -- his upside is even greater. Regression could be coming, though, and that's a scary thought given the lack of proven talent currently in the Braves' rotation.
Tyrell Jenkins was the other big piece to come to Atlanta, and I'm not really sure what to make of him despite being named the club's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He posted a 3.00 ERA over 93 innings in Double-A and then ended the year with a 3.57 ERA across nine Triple-A starts. His FIP in Gwinnett was 4.48, and he stopped striking people out. Jenkins has never been a huge swing-and-miss guy, but it would've been nice to see him miss a few more at-bats.
What does Jenkins' future hold? Maybe he's a mid-rotation guy, maybe he's a 5th starter, maybe he's a reliever. Let's hope for the former.
A year later, I think both teams would make the trade again if they had to. Heyward was a great fit in St. Louis, and while he's about to get paid big bucks, the Cardinals have money. Heyward wasn't going to re-sign with Atlanta, and the club would be in even worse shape now if they hadn't unloaded him a year ago.