The Los Angeles Angels acquired Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for veteran infielder Erick Aybar and prospects who head to Atlanta in return, according to a report from MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.
Going to Los Angeles alongside Simmons is catcher Jose Briceno. The Braves are acquiring left-hander Sean Newcomb and right-hander Chris Ellis to go along with Aybar and $2.5 million in cash.
It was reported by Jonah Keri of ESPN.com last night that the Braves were talking with an NL West team with regards to a potential deal.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports later reported that the team was not close to moving the 26-year-old phenom as no immanent deal was in place, with the organization having just touched base with a few teams which were not named.
Dennis Lin of San Diego Union-Tribune suggested that the Padres were among the teams to have checked in on Simmons but talks hadn't gone very far.
As of right now, Simmons is arguably the best defensive player in the game. Offensively, he is not the strongest but his tremendous defensive powers completely make up for it.
Simmons played his first Major League season in 2013 and started off on the right foot having hit .248/.296/.416 with 17 home runs and 59 RBI's while having played in a total of 157 games played. As noted by MLBTradeRumors, his hitting has not been as strong of late with his groundball rate rising and frequency of hard contact tailing off.
Atlanta signed Simmons to an extension last winter that Los Angeles will now take over as he is guaranteed $53 million over the next five seasons. Since the two sides first agreed to the new terms of his contract, Simmons has been paid a total of just $5 million in earnings from 2015.
Briceno, 23, does not play a big part in this deal, having spent all of last year at the High-A level which as MLBTradeRumors mentions is his highest placement yet. Briceno ended 2015 having hit .183/.215/.267 over 327 plate appearances.
The Braves receive Sean Newcomb who is said to be a major asset, as he has landed in the top 20 list on MLB.com’s latest league-wide prospects list. Over the course of the 2015 season, the 22-year-old southpaw climbed from Class A to Double-A, producing excellent run prevention numbers along the way. He averaged double-digit strikeout-per-nine tallies as well, though his composite 5.0 BB/9 walk rate shows that he’s still in need of polishing.
Chris Ellis, 23, is one of those who is not considered a large portion to the deal as he has had his fair share of struggles having pitched 140 2/3 innings of 3.90 ERA ball. Once being promoted from High-A and Double-A, his K:BB ratio really fell apart after having struck out 8.4 and walked 4.0 hitters per nine innings while on the path.
Aybar, 31, had a not so great 2015 season, slashing just .270/.301/.338 in 638 plate appearances. He will likely serve as a backup for the Braves. It is likely that he could be traded out of Atlanta depending on the team's plans for the remainder of the offseason and then during the season if the teams falls out of the postseason race, which at the time is highly likely.
Aybar's $8.5 million salary for 2016 will be reduced to a $6 million total for Atlanta. Even though he will be hitting free agency after the season, Aybar will be plenty valuable considering the lack of talent at the shortstop position.
The biggest reason the Braves can afford to make this move is the fact their top prospect, Ozhaino Albies, is a young shortstop who they think could rise through the minor leagues quickly. It might be a couple years, but Aybar gives the team a solid placeholder until the 18-year-old shortstop is ready.