Atlanta Braves send Jason Heyward to Cardinals in trade

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After trading away right fielder Jason Heyward a week ago to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Shelby Miller, it appears the Atlanta Braves are heading into rebuild mode.

Multiple reports state they are actively trying to trade away starters, left fielder Justin Upton and catcher Evan Gattis. If these reports are true, it would be the first legitimate rebuild for Atlanta in more than 25 years.

With a brand new stadium opening in 2017, many believe the Braves will use these two years to build the franchise back into contenders from the ground up. Atlanta is expected to trade their big players for younger players like Miller to develop and grow into stars.

In 2014 the Braves suffered their third losing season in 24 years, finishing tied for second place in the National League East with the New York Mets at 79-83. After they were eliminated from playoff contention, Atlanta fired their general manager Frank Wren after seven seasons as GM and 14 years with the club.

Wren had built a strong farm system, developing players like first baseman Freddie Freeman, closer Craig Kimbrel, and shortstop Andrelton Simmons into stars. But even with those successes, Wren had not done enough to keep his job. Wren was not criticized for the signings he made except for the large contract to then free agent outfielder B.J. Upton. The team was just not winning and it was time for a change.

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The Braves have been rumored to interested in big free agents such as former Oakland A’s/Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester. But Atlanta is considered to be a long shot to sign him. Instead many believe they will be sellers during the winter with many players up for grabs.

Rather than trading their better players like Heyward, the Braves prefer moving one of their under performing players, like B.J. Upton. When Upton signed a five-year $75 million contract with the Braves back in 2013, he was expected to be a big part of their future plans.

But in the two years playing with Atlanta he has hit just a combined .200 and has had two seasons below his previous career lows in stolen bases. But the contract and massive under performance make him almost immovable. However packaging Upton in a deal with one of their many good young pitchers such as 2014 all-star Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, or Alex Wood, might entice some teams to trade for him.

Justin Upton

Left fielder and two-time all-star Justin Upton, B.J.’s younger brother, is the big name the Braves are dangling as trade bait. In his two years in Atlanta, Upton hit a combined 56 home runs and 172 RBIs with a slash-line consisting of a .267 batting average, .348 on base percentage, and .478 slugging percentage.

Teams like the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers are reportedly interested and willing to pay a big price to land him. But a deal will be difficult due to Upton’s no trade clause. Before Upton was traded to the Braves in 2013, both those teams were reportedly on the star right fielder’s no-trade list.

With the rebuilding effort underway in Atlanta, it might be a while before fans see a return to their former glory under Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox, who managed the Braves from 1978 until 1981 and from 1990 until 2010, along with eight-time all-star and future Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones, who ended his career in 2012 after 17 years.

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St. Louis Cardinals
Atlanta Braves

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