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Inbox: How has Simmons deal fared?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers questions from fans
June 1, 2017

Please review the Andrelton Simmons trade, and the pitchers the Braves received in return. Seems like the Angels got the better deal. -- @bmresq1 We really won't get an accurate feel for this trade until some point after the 2018 season, when we have a better feel for Sean Newcomb's

Please review the Andrelton Simmons trade, and the pitchers the Braves received in return. Seems like the Angels got the better deal.
-- @bmresq1

We really won't get an accurate feel for this trade until some point after the 2018 season, when we have a better feel for Sean Newcomb's capabilities at the big league level, and when Simmons is in the process of making $39 million over the final three seasons of his contract.
When the Braves traded Simmons to the Angels in exchange for Newcomb and Chris Ellis after the 2015 season, they saw Newcomb's potential to develop into a legitimate frontline starting pitcher, and also wagered on the concern Simmons' contract would be a liability once he began to decline both offensively and defensively.
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Braves general manager John Coppolella heralded Simmons as one of the greatest defensive shortstops the game has seen. Simmons led all Major League shortstops in Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games during three of the past four seasons (ranked second in 2015). This year, he ranks second with six Defensive Runs Saved, but currently ranks ninth in UZR per 150.
At 27, Simmons can still be considered an elite defender. But despite generating more offensive consistency during his first two seasons with the Angels, he hasn't produced an OPS above .700 in the past four seasons.
If Simmons' offensive limitations persist, and his range continues to decline with age, then you may be able to say the Braves gambled wisely against the option to pay him $11 million in 2018, $13 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020.
This past offseason, the Braves included Ellis in the trade for Jaime Garcia, whose recent success might garner a return of a decent prospect via a trade later this summer. But from the Braves' perspective, the value of this trade hinges on the development of Newcomb, the club's No. 5 prospect per, who has positioned himself for a call to the Majors by posting a 1.93 ERA over his past seven starts for Triple-A Gwinnett.

With Adonis Garcia coming back from the disabled list, has Emilio Bonifacio reached his end with the Braves?
-- @ChrisBam1

Rio Ruiz hasn't done anything to alter the plan for him to platoon with Garcia, and Danny Santana has spent the past week proving there is some life in his bat. So, there really shouldn't be any reason to debate whether Bonifacio will survive this next roster move, which makes Garcia active for this weekend's series in Cincinnati.
While utilizing an eight-man bullpen, you need versatility on the bench. But given Garcia can handle either of the corner outfield spots, if necessary, and Santana is essentially a more productive version of Bonifacio, I think it's safe to assume the Braves can comfortably part ways with Bonifacio, who has a .405 OPS over 169 plate appearances since the start of the 2015 season. The only two players to produce a lower OPS while tallying at least 160 plate appearances within this span are starters Jonathan Lester (.255) and Clayton Kershaw (.365).

Who would you say has the best chance to make their Major League debut this year, excluding Lucas Sims and Newcomb?
-- @mbrothers15

What Ronald Acuna (1.102 OPS in 92 plate appearances for Double-A Mississippi) has done through his first three weeks as the youngest player in the Southern League has been astonishing. But we're likely going to have to wait until September, or next season, to see this 19-year-old outfielder who has legitimized the comparisons to Andruw Jones.
So instead, let's look at Ozzie Albies, the club's top prospect, who has slashed .266/.309/.382 through 50 games at Triple-A. There's no need to promote Albies as long as Brandon Phillips continues to play well. But more importantly, Albies, a 20-year-old, switch-hitting second baseman, has not yet shown he's ready for the next level. He is hitting .400 (20-for-50) from the right side of the plate, and just .223 (35-for-157) from the left.

Keep an eye on outfielder Dustin Peterson, who possibly would have already been promoted had he not broken the hamate bone in his left hand during Spring Training. This injury has occasionally had lingering negative effects on players, but the 22-year-old, who is the club's No. 17 prospect, batted .300 (12-for-40) through his first 12 games for Gwinnett.
Will the Braves have a third straight pitching-heavy Draft, or do you see them taking a bat with their first pick?
-- @mddl_eeztrn

When you have the fifth overall selection, like the Braves do this year, you don't pass up the chance to acquire what you deem to be the best available talent to simply fill a greater need within the system. You also stand at the mercy of the four teams choosing in front of you.
Last year, the Braves knew they were going to take right-hander Ian Anderson with the third overall selection. The year before, they were optimistic left-hander Kolby Allard would fall to them with the 14th overall pick. This year, as they continue their pursuit of high-upside prospects, it seems safe to bet on the likelihood of them taking a high school player.
But whether that player proves to be a pitcher or a hitter will be determined by who is selected within the first four picks. If OF/SS Royce Lewis is available, the Braves would certainly be intrigued by the option to add a quality bat to their pitching-rich farm system. But if he's gone, they also would be comfortable widening their abundance of arms with the addition of LHP MacKenzie Gore.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.