The Braves had discussed Evan Gattis with teams but, after dealing outfielders Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, it appeared as though the club would hold onto Gattis in lieu of trading him for more future assets.
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The Astros, despite their best efforts, were once again unable to land an impact player on the free agent market or through a trade, passed over for greener pastures and sexier scenarios.
The two teams found a deal that worked for both sides Wednesday when the Braves dealt Evan Gattis to the Astros for a prospect package headlined by former first-round pick Mike Foltynewicz. Minor leaguers Rio Ruiz and Andrew Thurman are also headed to the Braves, and minor league reliever James Hoyt is joining Gattis in Houston.
“We’re excited,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told the Houston Chronicle following the trade. “We had to give up a lot to get Evan Gattis and James Hoyt, but they’re both players that figure into our plans for next year. Evan Gattis is a premier offensive player in today’s game where offense is declining.”
Where Gattis fits in the Astros' plans is still up in the air. Gattis primarily played catcher with the Braves, but the Astros have a glut of catchers with Jason Castro, Max Stassi, Carlos Corporan and Hank Conger already on board. Gattis will likely slot in at a corner outfield spot, but he can also serve as the team's designated hitter without them missing a beat offensively.
The key to the deal for the Braves is Foltynewicz. The 23-year-old made his MLB debut this past season, throwing 18 2/3 innings in relief. Foltynewicz throws hard and, if he can refine his command, could be a legitimate starter in the big leagues. As it is, his future may be as a reliever.
Ruiz is a third baseman with offensive upside and Thurman was a second-round pick a year ago. On the other side, Hoyt is a 28-year-old reliever who Luhnow said could vie for a bullpen spot this year.
Gattis' redeeming quality is his power, and he'll continue to hit for plenty of it in the Astros' bandbox. Add in his catcher eligibility in fantasy leagues and the fact that, as a member of an American League team, he can take days off from playing the field as a designated hitter and Gattis' fantasy arrow is pointing up for 2015.
Cardinals Extend Lynn
A number of frontline pitchers remain available for trade or on the free agent market, but Thursday the Cardinals locked up one of the best starters in recent years to ensure he won't be going anywhere.
The Cards and Lance Lynn agreed to a three-year, $22 million deal that will keep Lynn in St. Louis -- or at least under team control -- until he hits free agency in 2017.
Lynn, 27, was first-time arbitration eligible this year, but the two sides came to an agreement that bought out all three of Lynn's arbitration years. The right-hander has won 48 games since 2012, behind only teammate Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw.
“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Lance,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in a press release. “His performance has led to much success for both he and the Cardinals organization, and we look forward to his continued growth as both a pitcher and team leader.”
Along with the wins, Lynn owns a 3.46 ERA in his major league career with 599 strikeouts in 616 innings. He posted his best numbers last year, registering a 2.74 ERA with two complete games and his first major league shutout. He might still play second fiddle to Wainwright among Cardinals starters, but Lynn should produce another strong season this year.
With the deadline to exchange figures now just hours away, numerous players and teams came to agreements to avoid arbitration in recent days.
Young pitchers Neftali Feliz ($4.125 million), Hector Santiago ($2.29 million), Jordan Lyles ($2.475 million) and Tommy Hunter ($4.65 million) were among the hurlers to get new one-year deals with their teams. Perhaps the most noteworthy agreement was between the Indians and Carlos Carrasco, who settled on a $2.3375 million contract for 2015. The 27-year-old broke out in a big way in 2014, posting a 2.55 ERA while striking out 26.5 percent of batters faced last year. He should have a big year in store this season.
Among hitters, Wilson Ramos ($3.55 million), Lonnie Chisenhall ($2.25 million), Peter Bourjos ($1.65 million), Danny Espinosa ($1.8 million) and A.J. Ellis ($4.25 million) all got new deals for this year. Rockies outfielder Drew Stubbs got $5.825 million after batting .289/.339/.482 with 15 homers and 20 steals last year. Chris Carter, who hit 37 home runs and 88 RBI in 2014, got $4.175 million from the Astros.
Quick Hits: The Athletics continued to overturn their roster, this time trading a player they'd only had under team control for a number of days. The A's dealt Yunel Escobar to the Nationals for Tyler Clippard, a deal that shores up areas of weakness for both teams. Escobar will slot in at second base while also possibly freeing up the club to trade pending free agent Ian Desmond, while Clippard could be in the mix to close games this year ... Miguel Cabrera was cleared to remove the walking boot from his surgically repaired right foot Thursday. Cabrera will have to wait until a follow-up visit with the doctor next month before being cleared for baseball activities ... With their collection of catchers, the Astros have talked with the Rangers about Corporan. It wouldn't take much to get the backstop from the Astros given their relative wealth at the position ... The Phillies are in a "staredown" with four teams regarding Cole Hamels, and a source familiar with the situation said the team is being unrealistic in its expectations for a return. A deal may not come until sometime this summer, it seems.