In a very interesting blockbuster swap the Braves have traded outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden to the Cardinals in exchange for starter Shelby Miller and starter prospect Tyrell Jenkins.
Heyward will be eligible for free agency next offseason, so St. Louis is giving up a combined decade of team control over the 24-year-old Miller and 22-year-old Jenkins for one season of Heyward and the possibility of draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
Heyward hasn’t quite lived up to the hype offensively after posting an .850 OPS as a 20-year-old rookie in 2010, batting .258 with a .762 OPS in four seasons since then. However, his defense grades out as truly elite in various advanced metrics and when combined with good but not great offense makes him one of the best all-around outfielders in baseball. In fact, during the past three seasons the only outfielders with more Wins Above Replacement than Heyward are Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez, and Alex Gordon.
And the Cardinals paid a big price to get him. Miller is a former elite prospect with a 3.33 ERA in 370 career innings through age 23, although his strikeout rate and control have been underwhelming. He certainly has top-of-the-rotation upside and is under team control through 2018. Jenkins was a first-round draft pick in 2010 and bounced back from season-ending shoulder surgery in 2013 to pitch well in 13 starts at high Single-A this season, although he struck out just 41 batters in 74 innings.
Walden, who goes to St. Louis along with Heyward, should step into a setup role for the Cardinals after posting a 3.10 ERA with 254 strikeouts in 212 career innings for the Braves and Angels. His inclusion in this deal will likely be mostly overlooked, but Walden has shutdown potential in the late innings and throws very hard.
The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.
Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.
Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.
Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.