In the first big blockbuster of the offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals acquired outfielder Jason Heyward and pitcher Jordan Walden from the Atlanta Braves for starting pitcher Shelby Miller and minor leaguer Tyrell Jenkins.
Heyward, who is still just 25, boasts a career slash line of .262/.429/.781 in five seasons in the Majors. He just simply hasn’t panned out in Atlanta after a phenomenal rookie year and the team felt as though it was time to move on. He will be a free agent after the 2015 season.
So what exactly are the Cardinals getting here?
Heyward is probably the best defensive right fielder in baseball, and is coming off a 2014 where he had his best career contact rate. He can still be a dynamic lead-off hitter and this change of scenery should only do him good. The Cardinals were also in desperate need of a right fielder after top prospect Oscar Taveras tragically died in a car wreck a few weeks ago. It would not surprise me to see St. Louis lock up Heyward long term before winter’s end.
Not to be lost in the shuffle, the Cardinals also acquired setup man Jordan Walden to bolster their bullpen. Walden, 27, is coming off a 2014 campaign where he posted a 2.88 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched. The former Angel boasts a dynamic upper 90s fastball and should work wonders as Trevor Rosenthal’s setup man this season. The move also allows St. Louis to move fireballer Carlos Martinez into the starting rotation after working primarily in the eighth inning last year.
St. Louis clearly feels as though it has enough pitching to win. The Cardinals 2015 rotation should look something along the lines of: Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, John Lackey, Lance Lynn, and then one of either Jaime Garcia, or the aforementioned Martinez.
Not too shabby.
What about the Braves?
On the other hand, Atlanta made the move to shed salary and acquire some young pitching. Getting Shelby Miller is certainly a good start.
The 24 year old regressed a bit last season after a phenomenal rookie year, going 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 183 innings. He still has a ton of potential however, and Atlanta will control him through the 2018 season.
Miller will join Julio Tehran atop the Braves rotation and give them a nice one-two punch for years to come.
As one can probably tell by this move, Atlanta appears to be in clear rebuilding mode moving forward. They shipped infielder Tommy La Stella to the Cubs over the weekend. Reports have also surfaced that they are shopping both Evan Gattis and Justin Upton as well. They want to move into their brand new stadium in 2017 with an array of young talent and some hope to sell to their fanbase.
Atlanta also acquired pitcher Tyrell Jenkins . Jenkins, 22, went 6-5 with a 3.28 ERA for Class-A Palm Beach last season. He is still probably a few years away.
Photo: CBS Sports