The Angels have acquired shortstop Andrelton Simmons and catcher Jose Briceno from the Braves in exchange for shortstop Erick Aybar pitchers Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis and cash considerations, as first reported by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com and Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Atlanta has been shopping Simmons to potential suitors for a couple of days, with the Padres, Dodgers and Mets among other potential landing spots. The defensive whiz is under contract through the 2020 season at a reasonable cost of $53 million, and will provide a longterm solution at shortstop for the Angels.
Simmons, 26, has hit .256/.304/.338 with 31 home runs while proving to be one of the league's best defensive shortstops in his first four major-league seasons. He was not thought to be available at the beginning of the offseason, but it appears as though the Braves are continuing the aggressive rebuild that led to Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel being dealt away last winter.
Briceno, 23, spent his season with High-A Carolina, posting a .183/.215/.267 line while hitting four home runs in 88 games.
Aybar, 31, heads east after spending the first ten years of his major-league career with the Angels. His performance has stayed relatively consistent over the years, as he finished last season with a .270/.301/.338 line. He is controllable for only one more season, so the Braves may look at him as a stopgap option until they are able to re-assess next offseason.
Newcomb, 22, is ranked across most boards as the top prospect in the Angels' system, making him the main chip for Atlanta in the trade. The left-hander is currently ranked by MLB.com as the 19th-best prospect in all of baseball after he posted a 2.38 ERA in 136 innings across three levels in 2015. The former first-round pick (15th overall in 2014) is seen as someone with tremendous upside, and will join an already-impressive stable young pitching prospects that the Braves have acquired in the last year.
Ellis, 23, is ranked by MLB.com as the Angels' second-best prospect, though he is not among the top 100 minor-leaguers in all of baseball. The former 3rd-rounder split his season between High-A Inland Empire and Double-A Arkansas, notching a 3.90 ERA in 26 starts.
At first glance, it appears that the Braves got a major haul for Simmons, who is controllable and has tremendous upside. The Halos, under new general manager Billy Eppler, appear to be starting an aggressive push to contend next season.