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Trading Craig Kimbrel, Melvin Upton to Padres a huge win for Braves

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One of the best trades of the last decade, hands down.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

John Hart has balls.

It was one thing to trade Jason Heyward, the beloved, homegrown outfielder who grew up just down the road from Turner Field. It was another to trade Justin Upton, the club's home run leader of two years. It was hard to understand for some, but trading Evan Gattis was a move that had to be made.

No one could've really predicted Sunday's trade. There will certainly be some backlash from the fan base, but let's be honest here: the Braves came out like kings.

Trading Craig Kimbrel sucks, but there was no reason to keep him around. Keeping him on a team projected to lose 90 games this season (and probably next season, too) was foolish, especially when he's owed up to $46 million over the next four years. Kimbrel was the final piece to trade to make Operation: Don't Suck In Cobb County a go, and Hart did it when no one expected.

It's still hard to believe Melvin Upton was traded. The idea of pairing Upton with a good player was tossed around a bit earlier in the offseason, but no one really gave it much thought. No one else around the big leagues did, either.

The Braves no longer having to pay Upton the next three years is nothing short of amazing. Considering the player, the market, and the current injury, I'm not sure there's a worse contract in the National League.

If the Braves traded Kimbrel and Upton to San Diego for nothing but to rid themselves of the salaries, it wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world. Not getting something in return for Kimbrel would hurt, but it would give the front office a fresh start moving forward. There is a lot of value in that for a mid-market club.

But the Braves didn't get nothing in the trade. They got a lot.

Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin will get their names written in the headlines, but they were only included to balance out the financial aspects of the deal. Maybin could become a semi-regular starter in center field along with Eric Young Jr., but he's likely more of a fourth outfielder. Quentin will be designated for assignment because he can't handle a position defensively.

Long-term, the Braves should save about $65 million from this deal.

Atlanta will be on the hook for both their contracts – Maybin has 2/$16M remaining and Quentin has 1/$8M with a $3 million buyout remaining – but that's pennies compared to what it will save by shipping out Upton and Kimbrel. Long-term, the Braves should pocket about $65 million from this deal.

Baseball America ranked Matt Wisler as the 34th best overall prospect this winter. Kiley McDaniels of FanGraphs ranked him 41st and wrote this about the 22-year-old Wisler:

Wisler works 91-94, touching 95 mph with sink and commands the pitch to both sides of the plate. His two-plane slider is plus, his changeup is above average at times and he also works in a fringy curveball. Scouts rave about his makeup and strike throwing abilities, though his command isn't quite big league ready, as he ran into trouble in the hitter-friendly PCL leaving the ball up the zone. Some scouts think his build is too slight and that he won't be able to hold up for 200 innings, with a couple suggested he may end up as a late-inning reliever. The consensus is that he should be able to handle 180 innings as a third or fourth starter.

Wisler is arguably the best prospect in the Braves' farm system now, and there's a good chance he's ready for Atlanta sometime in 2015.

Paroubeck is equally intriguing, though he's much farther away from the show than Wisler is. Here's what Keith Law wrote about him tonight:

Outfielder Jordan Paroubeck is an outstanding athlete who trains in the offseason with Barry Bonds, who was reasonably good at the sport himself. Paroubeck can run and has some raw power, but is behind developmentally after missing the summer of 2013 due to injury and spending last year in the Arizona Rookie League at 19. His arm is adequate for center after the shoulder surgery but not right, so if he can't play center -- and he didn't last year with Michael Gettys on the same team -- he's going to have to hit for more power to profile in left. You can see the influence of Atlanta executive Chad Macdonald, who was in San Diego when Paroubeck was drafted and for most of Wisler's tenure there.

The Braves also got a first-day draft pick (No. 41 overall) in the deal. They now have picks 14, 28, 41 and 54 in June's draft, which is huge.

In one move, John Hart and the Braves cleared $65 million in salary obligations, added a top-50 prospect to a rapidly-improving crop of minor leaguers, got rid of an expensive (albeit very good) player who wasn't needed anytime soon, and got rid of one of the worst players in baseball with one of the worst contracts in baseball.

Bravo, John Hart. Bravo.