Hold on to your seats, Braves fans: Andrelton Simmons has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels.
The defensive-whiz shortstop was traded to the Angels on Thursday night for a package of players including veteran shorststop/second baseman Erick Aybar and the Angels’ top two pitching prospects, left-hander Sean Newcomb, 22, and Chris Ellis, 23.
The Braves are also sending minor league catcher Joe Briceno to the Angels, and the Angels are giving the Braves $2.5 million to offset the difference in salaries of Aybar and Simmons.
They gave up the best defensive shortstop in baseball, and the Braves got back a solid one-year placeholder for the position and two starting pitchers who they believe could work their way into the top half of the rotation for years to come.
Newcomb, was 9-3 with a 2.38 ERA in 27 starts at three levels, and had 168 strikeouts with 76 walks in 136 innings. The Massachusetts native began the season in low Single-A and finished at Double-A Arkansas, where he had a 2.75 ERA in seven starts with 39 strikeouts and 24 walks in 36 innings.
Newcomb was rated the Angels’ No. 1 overall prospect at midseason by Baseball America, one spot ahead of Ellis, who was 11-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 26 starts last season in high Single-A and Double-A, and totaled 132 strikeouts and 63 walks in 140 2/3 innings. The Birmingham, Ala., native was a third-round draft choice out of the University of Mississippi in 2014.
Aybar, 31, is signed for $8.5 million in 2016, the final year of his contract. He hit .270 with 34 extra-base hits (three homers), a .301 OBP and 15 stolen bases in 2015, and is a .276 career hitter with a .315 OBP and 141 stolen bases in 10 seasons, all with the Angels.
Aybar will likely handle shortstop duties for one season for the Braves, whose shortstop of the future is Ozzie Albies, a 5-foot-7 dynamo who has a .328 average and .395 OBP in two minor league seasons. Albies has not played above Single-A and won’t turn 19 until January, but the Braves believe he could get to the majors quickly.
Please see our full story on this trade at MyAJC.com.
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