Ender Inciarte

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 16: Mallex Smith #17 of the Atlanta Braves rounds second base during the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field on September 16, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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The Braves and Mariners trade young players

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UPDATE: The Mariners have now flipped Mallex Smith to Tampa Bay, along with two minor leaguers, for starter Drew Smyly.

2:49 PM: The Braves and Mariners have made a trade involving four young players: Seattle is sending lefties Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows to Atlanta in exchange for outfielder Mallex Smith and righty reliever Shae Simmons.

Gohara, a minor leaguer, spent last season at two separate single-A levels. The 20-year-old Brazilian made 13 starts and posted a 1.81 ERA while striking out 81 batters in 69.2 innings. He is, according to Baseball America, the M’s third best prospect. Burrows is a 22-year-old who was drafted out of college last season and pitched 20 games in relief in low-A ball.

In Smith, the Mariners get a center fielder who will turn 24 in May. He played 72 games for Atlanta in his rookie season, posting a line of .238/.317/.365 while stealing 16 bases. Speed is definitely Smith’s calling card: he stole 88 bases in 2014 in the minors. Smith’s path to regular playing time in Atlanta became questionable, however, once the Braves signed Ender Inciarte to a contract extension last month.

Simmons, a reliever, has pitched 33 games in relief in two big league seasons. He’s 26. He missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery.

In Gohara, the Braves get a young starter with upside. In Smith the M’s get a speedy outfielder. The other two dudes are throw-ins, it would seem.

Braves sign Ender Inciarte to a five-year, $30.525 million extension

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: Ender Inciarte #11 of the Atlanta Braves waits to bat in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field on September 17, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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The Atlanta Braves have signed outfielder Ender Inciarte to five-year, $30.525 million contract extension. There is a club option or a sixth year. The deal gives Inciarte a $3.5 million signing bonus, and then salaries of $2 million in 2017, $4 million in 2018, $5 million in 2019, $7 million in 2020, $8 million in 2021, and then a $9 million club option for 2022 with a $1.025 million buyout of it’s not exercised.

Inciarte made $523,000 in 2016, his third in the majors. This deal buys out all of his arbitration years and two of his potential free agency years. He just turned 26.

That’s a pretty fantastic deal for the Braves, who enjoyed Inciarte’s fantastic center field defense while seeing him post a .291/.351/.381 line at the plate in 2016. He is one of the top baserunners in the game as well.

Inciarte came over to the Braves along with top prospect Dansby Swanson in the trade which sent Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks before last season. It was already a heist for the Braves given Swanson’s promise, but Inciarte, whose 2016 season was worth 3.6 WAR, would’ve made it a great deal for Atlanta if only he came over.

And not he’s locked up to a team-friendly deal for a long, long time.

Major league outfielders are getting smaller and faster

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 8:  Billy Hamilton #6 of the Cincinnati Reds makes a diving catch of a line drive from Matt Adams #32 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth inning at Great American Ball Park on June 8, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. St. Louis defeated Cincinnati 12-7.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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At FanGraphs, Eno Sarris did some digging and found that in 2016, for the first time since 1925, Major League Baseball saw only league-average production from its outfielders. He derived that by using wRC+, or adjusted Weighted Runs Created, a statistic that individually weights a player’s various offensive contributions, then adjusts for league and park effects. The offensive decline, Sarris finds, has a lot to do specifically with a decline in power, which is coupled with outfielders getting smaller and faster.

While we do have the stereotypical outfielder build in Mike Trout (6’1″, 235 lbs.) and Bryce Harper (6’2″, 230), we’re seeing lots of young players who defy that mold: Mookie Betts (5’9″, 156), Adam Eaton (5’9″, 180), Jackie Bradley, Jr. (5’10”, 195), Ender Inciarte (5’11”, 165), and Billy Hamilton (6’1″, 160), for example.

Sarris also compares current fourth outfielder types to those 30 years ago and finds that, indeed, clubs have eschewed power in favor of speed and defense. He suggests that this could lead to a market inefficiency in which these speedy, defensive types are overvalued and the slower, power-hitting types (like Brandon Moss) are undervalued.