When the Braves acquired Chris Martin, Shane Greene and Mark Melancon nearly a month ago, it seemed that the consensus was that all three moves were positive ones.
Well, now that they’ve had a chance to settle in let’s look at just how good the new relievers have been and grade the trades in hindsight.
Let’s start with the Braves first acquisition in Chris Martin.
Martin has seen 11.2 innings with the Braves over 13 games and has allowed seven runs over that stretch. However, Martin allowed five of those runs in his first four games with the Braves (a common theme with this trio) and has since allowed just two runs in his last 8.1 innings.
Overall, Martin owns a 5.40 ERA with the Braves, but also has a sparkling 2.18 FIP and 2.26 xFIP leading us to the assumption that some major positive regression is due for him soon. He is striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings and is walking 0.77(!) batters per nine as a Brave.
Conclusion after a month: Martin has been victimized by some horrid luck but has indicated that he has real swing-and-miss stuff. He was acquired for a relatively low cost as Kolby Allard wasn’t going to get chances with the Braves. Martin is likely the fourth best reliever on the team right now. Grade: B+
Shane Greene was the second reliver Alex Anthopoulos was able to grab on the trade market, just before Mark Melancon.
Greene was probably the most divisive player that the Braves traded for on deadline day. Atlanta had to part with a real prospect in Joey Wentz along with a long-time farm member in Travis Demerrite. Greene starting out the way he did probably just made the divisiveness even worse.
Greene came to the Braves with a sub-2.00 ERA and well over 20 saves with the Detroit Tigers this season. Most people that understand peripheral statistics knew that some sort of regression was coming, but nobody could’ve expected it to come all at once.
Greene allowed seven earned runs over his first 4.1 innings with Atlanta which lead some people to jump to the conclusion that this was a bad trade. However, Greene has stabilized over his last 8 innings, having allowed 0 runs while striking out 10 batters. Greene’s ERA as a Brave is 5.11, but eerily similar to Martin, Greene’s FIP is a much lower 3.78 and his xFIP is 3.45.
Conclusion after a month: Greene has been exactly the guy that the Braves thought they were trading for over the last two weeks. He is yet to record a save as a Brave but has pretty much solidified the eighth inning role. The Braves did have to give up some arguably useful pieces, but the extra year of control probably makes you do this deal over again. Greene is likely the third best reliever on this team now. Grade: B
The final pick-up on trade deadline day was veteran reliever Mark Melancon and his entire remaining salary.
Melancon was by far the most intriguing trade that the Braves made at the deadline simply because of the amount of money that he is still owed for the rest of this season and next.
Atlanta found themselves with exactly what they needed, which was a veteran reliever with closing experience. The price for it was Melancon’s salary for the remainder of this season along with the $14M paycheck he is owed in 2020. There was little to no prospect cost involved in this trade as Tristian Beck and Dan Winkler (who was released shortly after the trade) were sent to San Francisco.
Melancon is in the same boat as Greene and Martin regarding his ERA vs. FIP as a Brave, but at a much more drastic level. Melancon owns a 6.10 ERA with Atlanta, but counters with a 0.98 (!) FIP and 1.56(!) xFIP. Those peripherals are better than elite numbers and it is easy to see why there is such a huge discrepancy.
Melancon has a K/9 innings rate over 11 and has a BB/9 innings under 1.00. He also has a BABIP against of .441. Pair that with his insane 67.6% ground ball rate and you have an elite pitcher with a bad luck ERA. Melancon has saved five games with the Braves and has really shortened the game for Atlanta. All his runs allowed came in two games against Miami and New York where he combined to pitch one inning with a BABIP against of over .750!
Conclusion after a month: Melancon is the closer for an 80-win team and he isn’t going to fall out of that role barring injury. The beauty of Melancon is his experience as a closer and he actively wants the ball in pressure situations which will come in super handy during the Playoffs. The acquisition cost is the biggest turn-off here because the Braves have historically been cash strapped in the offseason, and $14M is a ton for one player that might pitch 70 innings a year for your team. Regardless, Melancon is the best reliever on the team and is a good voice to have around the other relievers thanks to his Postseason experience. Grade: A
Let’s hear your opinions on the trio of relivers acquired at the trade deadline this season in the comment section below. Who has been the best of the three? Which trade was the best value for the Braves? Also, do you think that the Braves will add another big reliever this offseason?