Cardinals acquire OF Heyward, RHP Walden in trade with Braves

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired outfielder Jason Heyward and right handed pitcher Jordan Walden from the Atlanta Braves; Atlanta received two right handed pitchers, Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, in the transaction. Hayward is 25-years old and has one year left on his contract.

Heyward has been one of the best outfielders in the National League, as he has accumulated 21.4 WAR during his five-year career in Atlanta. The young outfielder hit .271/.351/.384 in 2014, while posting a wOBA .329 and wRC+ of 110; his slugging was way down last season, as his career average slugging percentage is .449, wOBA .355, and wRC+ 127. With his contract expiring after the 2015 season, most pundits expected the Braves to engage in contract negotiations with Heyward. Instead the organization traded him.

It’s pretty clear that the Cardinals acquired Heyward to provide protection for the organization in case 34-year-old Matt Holliday’s production continues to decrease in the 2015 season. St. Louis also managed to bolster its bullpen with this trade as well.

Atlanta also gave up relief pitcher Jordan Walden, who was a solid pitcher in 55 innings last season. Walden struck out 11.16 batters for every nine innings he pitched, walked 4.86, and posed a slashline (ERA, FIP, xFIP) of 2.88/2.79/3.29. Basically, he was really good at preventing runners from getting on and when runners did get on base, they didn’t score often. 

St. Louis gave up decent starting pitcher, and an A-ball relief pitcher to receive one of the best hitters in the game.

Miller joined the Cardinals in 2012 as part of the September call-ups, and pitched in one game. His first real action was in 2013 when we started 31 games and pitched in 173.1 innings. The starting pitcher’s slashline was 3.06/3.67/3.73, while he struck out 8.78 batters per nine innings pitched. Unfortunately for Miller, his 2014 season was a disaster; he struggled to prevent runners from scoring, as his ERA (3.74), FIP (4.54), and xFIP (4.47) rapidly increased from the previous season.

This trade is a major win for the St. Louis Cardinals, who acquired a dynamic impact bat to put into the line-up and a solid relief pitcher; while Atlanta received an inconsistent, young, starting pitcher and a low A-ball reliever in the trade. The Braves have clearly entered rebuilding mode, as the Cardinals are doubling down on their push for the World Series. 

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