The Atlanta Braves are not eager to trade shortstop Erick Aybar anytime soon, sans a "significant return", GM John Coppolella tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 32-year-old Aybar was acquired along with pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis in this offseason's jettisoning of Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, where Aybar had spent the entirety of his 10-year big league career.
With Jhonny Peralta expected to miss 2-3 months with a thumb injury, many suspected Aybar as a logical trade target for the Cardinals, who need all the ammunition they can get to come out on top in a hyper-competitive NL Central. With Aybar slated to hit free agency after the 2016 season, he would figure to hold little value to the rebuilding Braves, but could feasibly be viewed as an asset for a contending club that would not require any sort of long-term commitment.
"Erick Aybar was a big part of the Andrelton Simmons trade," Coppolella said Wednesday. "We don't want to trade Erick Aybar; he's a great, winning player. We need to win more games this year, and he's going to be a big part of that. So we're very happy to hold onto Eric Aybar."
Atlanta seems to view 2015's 95-loss campaign as the trough of their rebuilding efforts, with the franchise aiming to regain contender status in time for the team's move to a new ballpark in 2017. The Braves are hoping either Dansby Swanson or Ozhaino Albies proves to be the club's long-term answer at shortstop, but neither has appeared in the high-minors, and expecting either of them to reach Atlanta before September would likely be a reach. Thus, the Braves do have some incentive to keep Aybar around until at least mid-season. A deal during the summer could ultimately prove to be more beneficial, as other suitors could emerge in need of a shortstop. Aybar is also coming off a somewhat down season, so the Braves likely view the first half of 2016 as an opportunity for Aybar to increase his value. Additionally, there is some risk in alienating other players by dealing Aybar before he has appeared in a regular season game for Atlanta.
As for the Cardinals, they seem likely to try out Jedd Gyorko and other in-house options to start the season, barring another acquisition. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman tweets that another potential shortstop solution, Ian Desmond, is unlikely to be moved by the Rangers. The possibility of Desmond heading to St. Louis would seem to be extremely unrealistic given he signed with Texas just a couple weeks ago, and any trade would require his consent.