Jason Heyward hit .271 with a .351 OBP and 20 stolen bases in 2014, while posting career lows in home runs (11) and slugging percentage (.384). 
Photo: Curtis Compton
Photo: Curtis Compton

Hart on trading Heyward: Painful, but necessary

Braves president of baseball operations John Hart discussed Monday’s trade that sent Jason Heyward to the Cardinals along with reliever Jordan Walden in exchange for starting pitcher Shelby Miller and minor league pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins. Here’s a transcript of part of the conference call:

On trading Heyward:

“Very difficult to trade Jason Heyward, but this deal was made I think to help us not only short term, but long term as we go forward. I certainly recognize what an outstanding player Jason Heyward is. We’d have loved to have reteained him. My sense was that Jason was going to be out on the free-agent market next year.

“We’re very excited about the players we’re bringing back, the young pitching that we desperately have needed. All winter we’ve talked about this. We spent a lot of time going through a lot of different options before we came to this decision, and I think long term – and short term – the Braves are better.”

Did this trade materialize in past week, beginning at GM meetings?

“Yeah, that’s exactly what it was. We knew as an organization going into this winter that we lost over 400 innings in our rotation and we didn’t have any players coming up in our system that were ready to provide those types of innings. We really needed two starting pitchers. And I think as we went through the meetings we were going out there with the idea of how do we acquire starters. We sampled the waters and we talked to literally every club out there, and we weren’t looking for a one-year sort of fix. Shelby Miller was one of the younger pitchers that we had identified as a guy who could step in and help us right now and that we would be able to control for a number of years.”

“In looking at this deal, we had some other options, but this one we felt was the one that made the most sense. The second player in the deal was important to us, as well. Tyrell Jenkins is a former compensation (round) pick out of high school, an incredible athlete (was) going to Baylor on a football scholarship. He’s had a coup has a couple of injuries that have set up him back a little bit. We saw this young man in the fall league, outstanding arm, great athlete, and we feel a year or two down the road has a chance to step in and be a long-term starter for the Braves. So, two young starters, one major league ready. This was the residue of a lot of meetings and a lot of conversations.”

How tough was it to trade Heyward considering his popularity and potential?

“I really do like this player. I hink he’s done some tremendous things with the Braves. He’s a homegrown player, and he’s young, he’s in the prime of his career. But nonetheless, he was going out (to test free agency in a year), and it was incumbent upon us to see what we could do…. We didn’t go out with the idea that Jason was going to be the guy that we used to get our starting pitching. There were conversations (involving) some of our other guys. But nothing that we could have gotten, pitching, that we felt was going to help us compete and to win. So, it is a fine balance. It’s painful. Not something you like to do. But I think where the Braves are right now, this is the deal that really helps us short-term and long-term, with a player that we control and in an area where we are woefully thin in our minor league system.

“This is the hard part of what you have to do when you absolutely love a player, because of the circumstances in the situation that you have to think about. Again, there was a not a better deal out there for us.”

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