The first blockbuster of the offseason has gone down. The Cardinals have acquired outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden from the Braves for right-handers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, according to a team announcement.
Heyward, 25, has been involved in trade rumors all offseason as the Braves reportedly worked to move one of their outfielders. He will immediately become the Cardinals' starting right fielder in the wake of Oscar Taveras' tragic death, joining Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk in the outfield mix in St. Louis. Heyward hit .271/.351/.384 with eleven home runs and 58 RBI for the Braves in 2014, and is under team control for only one more season before hitting free agency.
Walden, who has spent the last two seasons in Atlanta, posted a 2.88 ERA in 58 games for the Braves last season and will join a solid Cardinals' bullpen that could still add a left-hander to the mix. Walden is under team control for two more seasons.
Miller, 24, was 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA in 31 starts for the Cardinals in 2014, and will inject some youth into a Braves' rotation that lost both Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang to free agency. He will join Julio Teheran, Mike Minor as well as non-tender candidates Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy in the rotation, with the Braves likely making a move or two more before the beginning of the season. Miller is under team control through the end of the 2018 season, making him a valuable, controllable piece for Atlanta.
Jenkins, 22, was the Cardinals' first round pick (50th overall) in the 2010 draft and was recently ranked by MLB.com as the fourteenth-best prospect in their system. The right-hander posted a 3.28 ERA in thirteen starts for High-A Palm Beach last year, and is praised for his athleticism and sinking fastball.
With this trade completed, the Braves will likely move Evan Gattis to left field and Justin Upton to right field, if neither is traded before the start of the season. Atlanta has been working on moves to rebuild after another late-season collapse, so the additions of controllable arms like Miller and Jenkins in exchange for Heyward, a soon-to-be free agent, and Walden, an expendable bullpen piece, show that the team is moving in the right direction.
St. Louis already has Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Jaime Garcia in their starting mix, but could be poised to make another addition with names like Jake Peavy and St. Louis native Max Scherzer still on the free agent market. The Cardinals were linked to Peavy over the summer, and the link to Scherzer will always exist due to his birthplace.