The Braves and Indians swapped a couple of aging veterans with bad contracts on Friday afternoon when Chris Johnson was shipped to Cleveland for Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and approximately $15 million in cash considerations. For what the trade was, I like it quite a bit for the Braves.
Johnson had zero future in Atlanta. The extension Frank Wren gave him in early 2014 might've been one of the three-worst decisions during his eight-year tenure as GM. CJ was seldom playing even with huge holes at the corner infield spots, and he knew the Braves wanted him gone.
Where this trade really benefits John Hart and Co. is in 2017. You might've heard the Braves want to be good by then.
Johnson was on the hook for another $7.5 million next season and $9 million in 2017, which is when the Braves plan to be kings of the world.
Bourn ($14M) and Swisher ($15M) are owed big bucks in 2016, but neither will be owed anything after that. Both players have vesting options for 2017 with 550+ plate appearances, but that won't happen.
Hart should have some financial flexibility this offseason and next, especially with the money coming over from Cleveland in the deal. This trade frees up approximately $9 million for the first season in Cobb County. That's a decent chunk of change.
The only issue with this deal is that Bourn and Swisher aren't very good anymore. Or at least they weren't in Cleveland. Anyone expecting Bourn to be what he was with the Braves a couple seasons ago is in for disappointment. And while Swisher has impressive career numbers, he hasn't been productive since 2013.
Bourn figures to play left field and lead off during the final two months. He should be a better option than Eury Perez. It's going to be interesting to see where he fits in next year, especially with Maybin and Mallex Smith already in the fold.
#Braves Hart said Bourn and Mallex Smith will locker next to one another at spring training, Bourn to teach him some things.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) August 7, 2015
Swisher will spend some time at first base with Freddie Freeman on the mend. He really shouldn't play the outfield anymore. Similar to AJ Pierzynski and Jonny Gomes, Swisher will also serve as a mentor to some of the younger guys in the clubhouse. He seems like a cool bro.
Bourn and Swisher are unlikely to be impact guys, but they should provide more value than Johnson would have over the next 14 months. With the Indians sending over money to make this an even contract swap, the Braves are better off today, in 2016 and in 2017 because of the deal.