Though the Braves have not landed the ace they will continue to seek, they fortified their new-look starting rotation by trading for left-hander Jaime García from the Cardinals on Thursday night.
The Braves acquired García in exchange for three prospects -- infielder Luke Dykstra and right-handed pitchers John Gant and Chris Ellis. This deal allowed Atlanta to use a couple of their mid-tier pitching prospects to gain a veteran pitcher with the potential to help the team's attempt to return to a competitive level in 2017.
"We are pleased to be able to add Jaime García," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "We had targeted him for a number of years and feel he will be an impactful part of a revamped rotation. It was tough to trade away three kids we really liked, but we want to win and we want to create competition for our young pitchers."
García has a 3.54 ERA in 147 starts over a career that has been hindered by injuries. This past season, the 30-year-old southpaw produced a 4.67 ERA in 32 games, 30 of them starts. He had not made more than 20 starts since 2011, his second full season in the big leagues.
Garcia's acquisition signals the Braves are serious about the possibility of beginning the upcoming season with both Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair in Triple-A Gwinnett's rotation. But if Atlanta ends up being willing to pay the steep price it would require to acquire Sale, Archer or Gray, the deal could include at least one of these three young pitchers -- Foltynewicz, Wisler or Blair.
García will receive the $12 million option the Cardinals picked up last month and then be eligible for free agency at the end of the 2017 season. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in '08 and battled shoulder problems that forced him to end the '12 season with a 3.92 ERA through 20 starts. He underwent shoulder surgery in '13 and made just seven starts in '14.
If García remains healthy, he certainly could be a valuable asset in Atlanta's rotation. He produced a 2.43 ERA while making 20 starts in 2015, but missed most of July with a right groin strain. But as he neared the end of this year's 30-start season, he allowed at least five earned runs in each of his last three August starts and completed more than 3 2/3 innings in just one of his four September starts.
Gant's funky delivery drew some attention during Spring Training, and he produced a few encouraging starts when he was added to Atlanta's rotation in June. A left oblique strain sidelined him through July, and he didn't return to the Majors until late August. Scouts regard him as a potential back end of the rotation piece or a reliever.
Ellis fared well with Double-A Mississippi this year, posting a 2.75 ERA in 13 starts, but he struggled with Triple-A Gwinnett, producing a 6.52 ERA in 15 starts. His stock certainly didn't improve in the Arizona Fall League, where he allowed 11 earned runs and 19 hits in 19 2/3 innings.
Dykstra is the son of former big leaguer Lenny Dykstra. The 20-year-old infielder batted .304 and produced a .696 OPS for Class A Rome this past season.