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After missing the playoffs and suffering through their first losing season since 2008, the Atlanta Braves were not about to sit around contentedly this offseason.
In the first move of what looks to be a busy offseason, the Braves on Monday shipped outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins.
The Braves finished 79-83 last season, 17 1/2 games behind N.L. East champion Washington. With Hayward set to make $7.8 million next season and then head to free agency, Atlanta decided to cut ties with its 2007 first-round pick after five seasons.
A two-time Gold Glove winner, Hayward hit .271 with 11 homers, 58 RBIs and 20 stolen bases while earning his second Golden Glove. Hayward leaves Atlanta with a .262 career batting average with 84 home runs and 292 RBI.
Just 25, Heyward is a stellar defensive player but has not lived up to expectations offensively since bursting onto the scene as a rookie. Hayward hit a home run in his first at bat and was voted to the All-Star Game as a rookie and hit 27 homers and stole 21 bases in 2012 but had just 25 homers and 22 stolen bases in 253 games over the past two years.
The 24-year-old Miller was a first-round pick as well and will be plugged into the Atlanta starting rotation right away. Miller is 26-18 with a 3.33 ERA in 69 appearances including 63 starts for the Cardinals.
Miller was 10-9 with a 3.74 for the Cardinals last season to follow up an impressive rookie season when he was 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA. Miller is not eligible for arbitration until after next season.
Obtaining a starting pitcher was likely something high on new Atlanta general manager John Hart‘s to-do list this offseason with the team’s rotation in flux. Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang combined for 26 wins last season but are both free agents and Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy will both be coming off their second major elbow surgeries.
Joining Heyward on the way to St. Louis is Walden, who led the Braves with 20 holds in 2014. Walden was an All-Star in 2011 when he led the Los Angeles Angels with 32 saves.
Jenkins, 22, went 6-5 with a 3.28 ERA in 13 starts for Class A Palm Beach this year. He was selected by the Cardinals in the supplemental round (50th overall) of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Jenkins, who bypassed a chance to play quarterback at Baylor University after high school, is coming off an impressive fall in which he had 28 strikeouts and a 2.22 ERA in 24 1/3 innings for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League.
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