Braves trade Aybar to Tigers, clearing path for Swanson
ATLANTA (AP) — Braves shortstop Erick Aybar has been traded to the Detroit Tigers, clearing a path for Alanta to call up top prospect Dansby Swanson.
Swanson, the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2015, will be in the lineup at shortstop on Wednesday against Minnesota in his major league debut.
“I think that Dansby is going to be able to handle it mentally,” said John Hart, Atlanta’s president of baseball operations. “He’s not a kid that if he comes in and really struggles right out of the gate that it’s going to affect him. This is a kid that finds a lot of ways to help you win games other than maybe what he does with the bat.”
Atlanta received infielder Mike Aviles and catcher Kade Scivicque in Tuesday’s trade.
Swanson, acquired last December in the deal that sent starting pitcher Shelby Miller to Arizona, has split the season between Class A Carolina and Double-A Mississippi. In 127 games in the minors, Swanson is hitting .277 with 10 homers and 66 RBIs.
Aybar gives the Tigers experience at shortstop as Jose Iglesias recovers from a hamstring injury. Aybar is hitting .242 with two homers and 26 RBIs and is making $8.5 million in the final year of his contract.
“This is something that came together in the last 24 hours,” Atlanta general manager John Coppolella said. “I think they had some injuries and had a need open. We’re trying to get better and younger. We feel this trade does that for us.”
Atlanta acquired Aybar last November with minor league pitcher Sean Newcomb as part of the trade that sent Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels.
Aybar, in his 11th big league season, was in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game against Minnesota but was removed after taking batting practice and replaced by Chase d’Arnaud.
Tigers general manager Al Avila wanted to make the deal because he values Aybar’s versatility as Detroit tries to stay in the AL wild-card race.
“He’s a switch-hitter,” Avila said. “He can play short. He can play third. He can play second. Really, if we needed him to, in a pinch, if we had to — and I hope we don’t — we could throw him in the outfield. But right now he gives us an experienced veteran-type player that we feel will give us a little better offense than, let’s say Aviles.”
Aviles, 35, hit .210 with one homer and six RBIs in 68 games with the Tigers.
Scivicque, 23, hit .282 with six homers and 41 RBIs in 105 games for Single-A Lakeland. Before acquiring Scivicque, the Braves had no significant catching prospects in their minor league system.
Scivicque was ranked as Detroit’s No. 20 prospect before the season by MLB.com.
“We’ve said this is probably our biggest area of need,” Coppolella said. “We don’t have young, upper-level catching. We’ve been trying to find it. He’s a good player. He’s a fourth-round pick. He’s got off-the-charts makeup, too. We did a lot of work on him. He’s a great makeup guy. Can really lead a staff.”
Detroit recalled outfielder Steven Moya from Triple-A Toledo to take Aviles’ spot on the 25-man roster.
Coppolella said second baseman Ozzie Albies, the Braves’ No. 2 prospect, will stay at Mississippi for now, but could be in Atlanta soon.
Albies moved from shortstop to second base this year so the Braves could watch him play alongside Swanson. But at 19, Albies is three years younger than Swanson and needs more time in the minors.
“We’ll kind of go day by day with him and see how it goes,” Coppolella said. “He’s got a bright future. It won’t be long before he’s up here soon, and there’ll be a lot of good, young players following as well.”
Associated Press freelance writer Dave Hogg in Detroit contributed to this report.