TRADED: Cards, Braves Swap Former Top Prospects

heyward

The Atlanta Braves had high hopes for outfielder Jason Heyward, the 14th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur draft. Those expectations were wratched it up a notch three years later when Heyward finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting with an 18 HR, 72 RBI, .849 OPS campaign. But after belting 27 HR with 82 RBI in 2012, Heyward’s offense dropped, but Atlanta’s expectations did not, especially considering what they were paying Heyward. The Braves traded the 25-year old to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday for right-hander Shelby Miller, the 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft.

The Cardinals also received reliever Jordan Walden, while minor league pitcher Tyrell Jenkins was sent to the Braves’ organization.

Miller was third in the National League Rookie of the Year vote in 2013 when he won 15 games with a 3.01 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 173.1 innings pitched. This past season, Miller’s ERA rose to 3.74 and his strikeouts per nine innings dropped from 8.8 to 6.2.

Heyward is due to make $8.3MM for the coming season and the Braves, apparently, are not willing to pay more than that for the future. Miller, by comparison earned $521K and is not arbitration eligible until 2016. He will earn substantially less in 2015 than Heyward.

The Braves outfielder posted .776 and .735 OPS the past two seasons and slugged a career-low .384 in 2014. He won his second Gold Glove this year and will join Matt Holliday as a corner (RF) outfielder in the Cardinals lineup. Considering the length of time (four years)  that the Cardinals had Miller under control, the deal had to come as much of a surprise to Cardinals fans as it did to Braves fans. Miller will replace Ervin Santana, a free agent, in the Braves’ starting rotation.

Though he has a propensity to walk too many hitters, Walden was solid out of the pen in his second season in Atlanta. The hard throwing righty struck out 11.2 batters per nine innings and held opposing hitters to a .541 OPS. Walden, who did not fare successfully as a closer in his younger days for the Angels, could have a chance to win the job in St. Louis from Trevor Rosenthal.

Jenkins was a supplemental pick (50th overall) by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2010 draft. The 6’4″, 22-year old right-hander missed the first half of the 2014 season with shoulder surgery. He finished the season 6-5, 3.28 in 13 starts for the Cardinals’ Palm Beach (Florida State League) affiliate.

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