Braves Shed Fat For Future


    Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal Constitution

    BLOW OFF: The Atlanta Braves blew apart their team this off-season, including trading away all three of its starting outfielders.

    The Atlanta Braves surprised many fans this year when management  blew apart the roster of a fairly successful team. Last year, Atlanta finished 79-83, second place in the National League East. This season, the Braves finished 63-95 fourth in the NL East and third worst in the entire Major Leagues.

    Despite this poor record, the Braves may be closer to reaching the playoffs more consistently in coming seasons as the ongoing roster makeover strengthens its farm system.

    Most people are focusing on what the Braves lost. This was admittedly a lot as they lost star closer Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres. Along with Kimbrel, the Braves also sent the power-hitting Justin Upton to the Padres in another trade. These moves were coupled with a trade that sent Evan Gattis the the Houston Astros. By opening day this year the Braves only had position players two starters from the previous year.

    Despite losing all of this star power the Braves have also been able to get rid of underperforming players who were on bloated contracts. The best example of this was when the Padres took the contract of B.J. Upton, now known as Melvin, along with Craig Kimbrel. The Braves were also able to get rid of Chris Johnson who signed a large contract he has not lived up to after finishing runner up in the batting title in 2013. They sent him to the Indians in exchange for two short-term contracts that will free up payroll going into next season. With the options of Bourn and Swisher who were acquired in the deal unlikely to vest for next season the Braves will only have roughly $50million tied up in payroll which will leave them room to go after big name free agents this offseason.

    The Braves did more than free up cap room by moving all of these major league players. In 2014 the Braves had the 26th ranked farm system according to Baseball America. By the beginning of this season they had improved to 15th. After the trade deadline the Braves were ranked as second best farm system in the majors by Keith Law of ESPN. In order for a team to be successful they must either be able to afford a massive payroll in the hundreds of millions or build from the ground up like the Braves are. If everything turns out as planned the Braves could continue to build upon their already young roster and create another dynasty like the one from 1991-2005 that included 14 straight division championships.