The trade deadline nears and the Braves were finalizing their first significant move Thursday night, working on a trade to send left-hander Jaime Garcia to the Twins for a minor leaguer, a person familiar with the situation said.
Garcia, 31, is 3-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 17 starts in his only season with the Braves, who got him from the Cardinals in a Dec. 1 trade for three fringe prospects. The Braves owe about $4.9 million of his $12 million salary for the remainder of this season in the option year of a contract he signed with the Cardinals.
The lefty was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in his last five starts for the Braves, allowing five or more earned runs in four consecutive outings before holding the Diamondbacks to four hits and one run in seven innings of a win Sunday in his last start.
Garcia found out that a trade seemed likely when a teammate showed him the news on a cell phone after Garcia entered the clubhouse following a pregame workout Thursday at Dodger Stadium.
Aaron Blair was a late scratch from his scheduled Triple-A start for Gwinnett Thursday night to presumably take Garcia’s place in Friday’s start against the Dodgers. The Braves could eventually turn to another current Gwinnett pitcher, such as Kris Medlen, Lucas Sims or lefty Andrew Albers, to take that rotation spot if they don’t trade for a starter.
It had been expected since the Braves initially acquired Garcia that they would trade him before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, since he’ll be a free agent after the season and they didn’t have any intentions of paying free-agent prices to re-sign him.
Rather than let him leave for nothing, the Braves wanted to get what they could in a trade now while he’s healthy and with relatively few starting pitchers available on the trade market.
In parts of nine major league seasons, Garcia has battled frequent injuries and posted a 65-52 record and 3.65 ERA in 175 games (164 starts). He was 10-13 with a 4.67 ERA in 171 12/3 innings for the Cardinals in 2016, the first time since 2011 that he made more than 20 starts or pitched as many as 130 innings.
The Twins are 48-46 and only a half-game behind Cleveland for first place in the AL Central and could at least temporarily have two-fifths of what was the Braves rotation for most of the first half, since they recently signed released Braves veteran Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal and promoted him to their big league team earlier this week.
Colon, however gave up eight hits and four runs in four innings of his Twins debut against the Yankees on Tuesday and could soon retire.
The Braves got Garcia from the Cardinals in exchange for minor league right-handers John Gant and Chris Ellis and infielder Luke Dykstra, the son of former major leaguer Lenny Dykstra.