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Braves trade Whalen and Povse, acquire Alex Jackson from Seattle

The Braves made a rare prospect-for-prospect swap on Monday night, sending two pitchers to the Mariners for Alex Jackson, a former first round pick.

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

You don’t see it very often, but that doesn’t mean it never happens: John Coppolella and Jerry DiPoto of the Mariners have successfully tangoed in a prospect-based swap.

Departing from the Atlanta organization are two arms: Rob Whalen and Max Povse.

Whalen made five starts as a Brave in 2016 with unflattering results (6.57 ERA, 5.05 FIP, 4.77 xFIP). However, those came towards the end of a long season for him, and he was much better in both AA (2.49 ERA, 3.19 FIP) and AAA (1.93 ERA, 2.53 FIP) prior to his promotion. The Talking Chop community recently rated him as the Braves’ #18 prospect.

Max Povse finished the 2016 season at AA-Mississippi, where he made 11 starts and put up a 2.93 ERA / 3.46 FIP. Before that, he had made 15 starts in High-A ball, with similarly good results (3.71 ERA, 2.86 FIP). The community considered him a similar caliber of player/prospect to Whalen, as he placed 22nd on that list.

Braves fans are probably less familiar with Alex Jackson, a converted catcher that now plays outfield. Jackson was drafted sixth overall in the 2014 amateur draft, where he was praised for an intriguing swing and good bat speed. At the time of the draft, many evaluators called him the best hitter in the draft. He hit well in rookie ball (128 wRC+) and in Low-A in 2015 (140 wRC+), but scuffled in his first taste of A-ball to finish out the 2015 season (37 wRC+ in 120 PAs, driven by a low BABIP and a power outage). He started in A-ball again in 2016, putting up a 120 wRC+ over nearly 400 PAs in the process.

Jackson was rated the Mariners’ #1 prospect after both the 2014 and 2015 seasons by Baseball America; his placement on the post-2016 list is unclear as it hasn’t been released yet (and it won’t include him at this point, anyway). He offers a middle-of-the-order ceiling, but is a ways away from contributing, as he hasn’t even seen AA pitching yet.

The Braves traded from a position of depth and strength to gain additional high-upside talent. The targeting of talented prospects has been a persistent theme in John Coppolella’s trades to date, though this marks one of the first times in recent history that the Braves have traded from their prospect pitching depth to acquire a position player.

As errata to this deal:

  • The Mariners are also including a player to be named later, but the value of that is unclear as of this moment.
  • The move frees up a 40-man spot for Sean Rodriguez without having to remove any other player from the roster.
  • Alex Jackson was recently used as an outfielder by the Mariners, but there’s a chance the Braves could transition him back to catching.
  • The Mariners DFAed Ryan Weber as a part of making this deal. Weber, of course, was claimed by the Mariners from the Braves earlier this offseason.

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