ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves made another move in the dramatic offseason retooling of their rotation on Thursday by acquiring left-hander Jaime Garcia from the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals got a trio of prospects, including second baseman Luke Dykstra, the son of former All-Star Lenny Dykstra. The Cardinals also landed right-handers John Gant and Chris Ellis.
Tied for the fewest wins in the NL this season, the Braves began to reconstruct their 2017 rotation by recently agreeing to one-year deals with veteran right-handers R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon.
Garcia’s $12 million option for 2017 was recently exercised by the Cardinals. Like Dickey and Colon, Garcia could be a bridge to young pitching prospects. Julio Teheran returns as a fixture atop the rotation. Among other candidates for the rotation are Mike Foltynewicz, Josh Collmenter and Matt Wisler.
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Braves general manager John Coppolella said he the team had interest in Garcia long before the offseason deal.
“We had targeted him for a number of years and feel he will be an impactful part of a revamped rotation,” Coppolella told The Associated Press. “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. I spoke with Jaime and he’s feeling great and really excited about this opportunity.”
The Braves are moving into new suburban SunTrust Park in 2017.
Garcia has spent his entire injury-interrupted career with the Cardinals, going 62-45 with a 3.57 ERA. He was third in rookie of the year voting in 2010, went 13-7 the following season while helping St. Louis win the World Series, and threw 171 2/3 innings last season — the second-most of his career.
But the 30-year-old with a history of shoulder trouble was also just 10-13 with a 4.67 ERA last season, and a glut of starting pitchers made him expendable. The Cardinals are expected to have Lance Lynn back after missing last season to an elbow injury, and Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake and rookie Alex Reyes are expected to solidify the rotation.
The Cardinals also plan to have Michael Wacha start again, and general manager John Mozeliak has indicated former closer Trevor Rosenthal could be stretched out to start.
By trading Garcia and his $12 million option for next season, the Cardinals gain the financial flexibility to chase down an outfielder, their biggest remaining hole. They already shored by their bullpen by signing left-handed reliever Brett Cecil to a four-year, $30.5 million contract.
The 21-year-old Dykstra, a seventh-round pick of the Braves in 2014, hit .304 in 81 games for Class-A Rome. He was voted an All-Star in the South Atlantic League.
He may have the biggest name recognition, but the two pitching prospects may offer more upside.
The 24-year-old Gant debuted with Atlanta last season, making seven starts and going 1-4 with a 4.86 ERA in 20 games. He also made 12 appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett, going 3-3 with a 4.18 ERA.
Ellis made 28 starts for Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi, going 12-9 with a 4.49 ERA. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander was a third-round draft pick of the Angels in 2014.
The Braves also have signed utility player Sean Rodriguez, who played for Pittsburgh the last two years, to an $11.5 million, two-year contract and acquired outfield prospect Alex Jackson, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2014 amateur draft, from Seattle for right-handers Rob Whalen and Max Povse. Jackson may be given an opportunity to play catcher, his high school position.
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed to this report.