In yet another under the radar trade by Braves general manager Frank Wren, Atlanta announced today a trade for right-handed pitcher Gavin Floyd. Floyd, 30, has spent the last 7 seasons with the Chicago White Sox after being drafted by and spending 3 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Floyd’s best year came in 2008 for the White Sox when he had a 17-8 record with a career-best 3.84 ERA (in 206 1/3 innings pitched). Over his 10-year career he has a 70-70 record (in 199 games) with a 4.48 ERA. Floyd had 5 starts in 2013 before having to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair both a torn ulnar collateral ligament and torn flexor tendon. He is likely to be ready to pitch by mid-May.
The Braves offered Floyd a $4 million contract with performance incentives. A fairly low-risk contract with the potential for high reward.
The trade for Gavin Floyd is not the trade for a veteran ace many Braves fans were hoping to see by the club, but with the return of Brandon Beachy, the growing dominance of Mike Minor and the veteran presence of Floyd, the Braves have a solid rotation as it stands now. The trade certainly doesn’t close the door on any potential trades for pitching.
In addition to the free agent signing of Gavin Floyd, the Braves have picked up two other minor pieces over the last few weeks that may prove to be as important as the previous low-risk signings of players like Ben Sheets and Elliot Johnson. The two players that were picked up by the Braves’ front office are INF Mat Gamel, previously a top prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers, and RHP Luis Vasquez, a reliever from the Dodger system.Gamel was a touted prospect for the Brewers and heir-apparent to Prince Fielder at 1B until he required two knee surgeries. Gamel’s likely option is on the bench. In 290 games at Triple A, Gamel hit for a .301 average with 53 homers and an .886 OPS. Vasquez, the more interesting of the two pickups, is a reliever with a great deal of potential despite underwhelming numbers in both Double A and Triple A. Playing in the Dominican Republic Winter League, Vasquez has posted an 1.15 ERA in 20 appearances for Licey. He has 19 strikeouts to 3 walks in 15 2/3 innings while allowing only 4 hits. His dropped arm slot has been a huge success, something he did while with the Dodgers in 2013. He routinely throws between 94-96 MPH.
It hasn’t been a blockbuster winter this year as it was over the past offseason when the Braves traded for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson and signed free agent B.J. Upton. However, as Frank Wren has shown in the past, it doesn’t take signing the top name on the free agent list or trading for the most coveted piece to make a winning ball club.
Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.