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Early returns on Braves' offseason trades are very promising

Making the most of a not-fun rebuild.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

I was watching the Astros play the Red Sox last night. Evan Gattis came to the plate. He was hitting .243 on the season with a .272 on-base percentage and 16 homers. FanGraphs has Gattis at -0.2 WAR. And he's doing this with his 29th birthday next month and the benefit of being the DH almost every night. He's not playing the field regularly, which he would've been doing in Atlanta.

This prompted me to take a look at Justin Upton. Stop me if you've heard this before: after an amazing, set-the-world-on-fire first two months of the season, Upton has been terrible ever since. His wRC+ since late-May is 65. Upton tends to pick things up in the final two months of each season, but he hasn't made much of an impact on a bad Padres team.

Jason Heyward is doing what he usually does for the Cardinals, which is playing strong defense while handling his own with the bat.

Craig Kimbrel is having his worst year ever. His worst year ever, of course, means a 2.97 ERA and 2.48 FIP with 26 saves and nearly a 4/1 K-BB ratio.

B.J. Melvin Upton is hitting .203/.280/.351. Par for the course.

Now consider this is what the Braves got in return for one year of Heyward, one year Justin Upton, Gattis, Kimbrel and Melvin:

Shelby Miller, Cameron Maybin, Jace Peterson, Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried, Mallex Smith, Tyrell Jenkins, Rio Ruiz, Dustin Peterson, Andrew Thurman, $60M in salary savings.

Miller, Maybin and Jace Peterson have been solid all year long and are controlled through 2017+. I think Wisler is a near-guarantee to be a solid No. 3 or 4 starter for a long time. Foltynewicz has an upside as high as anyone in the organization and could be a late-inning reliever if he can't make it as a starter.

Fried was a top-10 pick two years ago and should be fully recovered from elbow surgery soon. Smith destroyed Double-A and could be in the big leagues next year. Jenkins is a fringe top-100 prospect now in Gwinnett. Ruiz, another fringe top-100 guy, has struggled in Double-A but is one of the youngest players in the league. Dustin Peterson is raking in High-A. Thurman has pitched well in limited work since the bus crash.

John Hart was desperate to add depth to the Braves' farm system when he took over the job. Remember when this was the organization's top-10?

1. Lucas Sims, RHP (40)
2. Christian Bethancourt, C (90)
3. Jose Peraza, SS (99)
4. Mauricio Cabrera, RHP
5. Wes Parsons, RHP
6. Jason Hursh, RHP
7. Victor Caratini, C/3B
8. J.R. Graham, RHP
9. Tommy La Stella, 2B
10. Ian Thomas, LHP

It's hard to believe that was only 18 months ago. I'm not sure there was a worse farm system in MLB. Now compare that list to the Braves' current one, which was recently ranked No. 2 by Keith Law.

There's a long way to go before we can truly know how the Braves' new front office did with the rebuild, but the early returns are very promising.

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