The Braves have acquired left-hander Jaime Garcia from the Cardinals for right-handers Chris Ellis and John Gant and infielder Luke Dykstra, a source confirmed to SB Nation. ESPN’s Mark Saxon first reported the deal.
Atlanta was known to be aiming high in trade talks for starters, and have pursued top options like Chris Sale (White Sox), Chris Archer (Rays) and Sonny Gray (Athletics) as they look to fill out their rotation. They instead struck a move for Garcia, who was made available after the Cardinals exercised his $12 million option at the beginning of the season.
Garcia is the third rotation addition of the winter for the Braves, who also signed veterans R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to 1-year contracts. Atlanta entered the offseason as an aggressive pursuer of veteran rotation help, and has drastically changed their starting mix since the end of last season.
Garcia, 30, was 10-13 with a 4.67 ERA in 32 starts for St. Louis last season in his eighth year with the team. He will be a free agent after the season, serving as potential trade bait at the deadline if the Braves are out of the race.
Ellis, 24, was a third round pick of the Angels in the 2014 draft and joined the Braves as part of the return package for Andrelton Simmons last offseason. The 6-foot-5, 205 lb. right-hander split last season between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, posting a 4.49 ERA in 28 starts. Ellis projects as a No. 4 starter in the majors, and is ranked by MLB.com as Atlanta’s 17th-best prospect.
Gant, 24, made his major-league debut for Atlanta last year, posting a 1-4 record and 4.86 ERA in 50 major-league innings. He was originally acquired by Atlanta in last summer’s trade for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, and also projects as a back-end starter with a funky delivery and projectable frame. MLB.com had Gant ranked as the Braves’ 21st-best prospect at the time of the deal.
Dykstra, the son of former big-leaguer Lenny Dykstra, was originally drafted by the Braves in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. The 21-year old hit .304/.332/.363 with seven steals in 81 games for Single-A Rome last season, but has only hit two professional home runs in 183 games. Dykstra was MLB.com’s 29th-best Braves’ prospect at the time of the deal.