Atlanta Braves rumors now shift to who will be the next closer. The Braves traded away All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel on Sunday, April 5, pulling off one more blockbuster deal before Opening Day. As reported by MLB.com, the Braves dealt Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. to the San Diego Padres. In return, the team receives right-handed pitcher Matt Wisler, outfielders Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, and Jordan Paroubeck, and the No. 41 draft pick in June.
This move is a way for the Braves to shed a lot of salary and clear space for the 2016 MLB offseason. Kimbrel is owed $9 million this season, $11 million in 2016, and $13 million in 2017. He also has a team option for $13 million in 2018 that the Padres have a few years to decide upon. Upton is owed $14.45 million this season, $15.45 million next season, and $16.45 million in 2017. As for the return pieces, Quentin makes $8 million in his final contract year and Maybin is owed $16 million for the next two seasons.
Atlanta Braves rumors about a possible Craig Kimbrel trade had appeared earlier in the baseball offseason, but team president of baseball operations John Hart kept claiming he would not be dealing the All-Star closer. Apparently that thought shifted when an offer came along from the Padres that he couldn’t pass up. A report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Hart on how the move went down.
“It was a hard thing to do. He was just a consummate professional. This is a guy, you want him to be your son, you want him to marry your daughter. He’s just an outstanding young man. He was very respectful of the opportunity to play for the Braves; he love loves the Braves. He understands the dynamic. He was just absolutely professional and classy.”
As for an official answer to the Atlanta Braves rumors about who would be the next closer, Hart presented two immediate options for the team. They will turn to former closers Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli to cover ninth inning situations, possibly allowing the hot hand to emerge as a solution at some point. Johnson had closed for the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics in the past, while Grilli served as a closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both guys were brought in to be set-up options in the seventh and eighth innings for Kimbrel.
Another guy fans will have to keep a close eye on is rookie Juan Jaime. He has the makings of a closer in Major League Baseball and by dealing Kimbrel it may have opened the door for him to take over ninth inning duties by the end of 2015. He saw some action at the end of 2014, posting a 5.84 ERA and 1.865 WHIP over 12 1/3 innings. Jaime also had 18 strikeouts to show how dominating he was on the mound and nine walks to show he still needs to work on his control.
As previously reported on the Inquisitr, this isn’t the first big trade the Braves have undertaken recently. During the offseason they dealt Justin Upton to the San Diego Padres and also sent Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals. By moving Craig Kimbrel now, the Atlanta Braves are clearly trying to build this team to be better in the future. Now Juan Jaime might be one of the players that starts making a name for himself in that bullpen.
[Image Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]