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Braves-to-Padres Craig Kimbrel Trade Analysis

Craig Kimbrel Trade - Cristine-Maybourne

Remember when the Atlanta Braves were publicly insisting that they weren’t in “rebuilding mode”? It’s hard to say if they’ll continue to maintain that position, but it will assuredly be more difficult for them to maintain that position.

On Sunday, the Braves traded All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. (or the artist formerly known as B.J.) to the San Diego Padres for a package including OF Cameron Maybin, OF Carlos Quentin, SP Matt Wisler and OF Jordan Paroubeck, as well as the 41s overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Our own Doug Anderson and Buck Davidson discussed the trade on their “Sunday Night Sandlot” podcast yesterday.

What does this trade mean for Craig Kimbrel?

Kimbrel was the National League leader in saves in 2014 (47) and has topped 40 saves in each of the past four seasons.

The flamethrower has been a mainstay on the NL’s All-Star squad since he broke onto the scene in 2011, and despite the change of scenery, there’s little doubt that he’ll continue his dominance despite the change of address. Dominance you see, is something that plays well in any time zone. Kimbrel will obviously be the closer for the Padres, shifting Joaquin Benoit to the setup role. In short, there goes that $13 you spent on Benoit for 2015.

Kimbrel has a 1.43 ERA since he joined the majors in 2010 — that’s the lowest ERA in the entire league in that span.

You can check our always updated Closer Depth Chart to see how it all shakes out for both the Braves and the Padres.

What does this trade mean for Melvin Upton Jr.?

Of lesser consequence, but also in San Diego, Melvin Upton joins his brother Justin in the Padres outfield, where he hopes to resurrect his floundering career.

Since moving to the National League two seasons ago, Upton has been a shadow of his former self, posting a .198/.279/.314 slash line over 1,028 plate appearances, making arguably the single worst hitter in baseball in terms of overall impact.

This is to say that you have not wanted him on your Fantasy Baseball roster before Sunday — a trend that is unlikely to change moving to a bona-fide pitcher’s park in Petco Park.

What does this trade mean for Atlanta’s closer spot?

The closer fall-out in Atlanta is a far more speculative game with both Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson likely drawing looks. This smacks of a closer-by-committee situation in the short-term, but these are the two most likely candidates to claim the closer clown given their respective pedigrees. Both pitchers will probably have some short term value until such time as someone wins the “battle.”

What does this trade mean for Cameron Maybin?

Staying in Atlanta, Maybin seems a logical fit in center where he’s likely to rotate between the second and eighth spots in a shockingly-terrible Braves lineup, one that will struggle to produce many runs in this a (non) rebuilding year.

Even with a guaranteed starting spot, Maybin has only played in 109 games over the last two seasons combined, making him something of a wild card. Although, with the shot at a starting role something he didn’t have with the Padres, he’s worth a look in deeper leagues, especially for those in need of steals.

What does this trade mean for Carlos Quentin?

Quentin, however, is less of a sure thing. When healthy, Quentin can provide sneaky 85-25-85 production, but there’s no assurance that he’s healthy (some things never change) and there’s also no real indication that he’s going to have a full-time starting role with the Braves.

He’ll see some time in left field and occasionally spell Freddie Freeman at first, but there’s no telling how often he’ll assume either role. NL-only owners may want to look at rostering Quentin with a speculative add, particularly is Jace Peterson doesn’t stick at second and Eric Young Jr. is moved off his starting spot in left to fill the void.

What does this trade mean for Matt Wisler?

Wisler, 22, is the upshot for the Braves in this deal, and while he might see some time in the minors to start the season, he figures to be in the Braves rotation at the first opportunity.

Unfortunately, he’ll be pitching for the Braves, which is bound to have a pretty low-scoring lineup (even with Melvin Upton Jr. traded!). Heck, Wisler won’t even have Craig Kimbrel closing games for him!

Craig Kimbrel Photo Credit: Cristine Maybourne

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