To start with who we gave up, Mallex was stuck in a position where he would likely not receive regular playing time unless an injury happened. This would be the case for at least the next two years, as the Braves currently have all three of their current outfielders under contract through 2018.
There was certainly an argument to be made that Nick Markakis should be the one of the four to be traded, as he is a veteran on the downswing (WAR of 2.5, 1.5, 1.1 the past three years) that is likely not as productive as Smith currently is. However, the market for Markakis is probably very light. It is definitely lighter than the return the Braves got for Smith. After the Inciarte extension, which showed that the Braves would not be selling high on a big 2016 from Ender, trading Smith was the logical move to help continue to bolter the farm system or for a similar major league asset at a different position – say third base. The Braves chose the former, and they got a nice return for doing so.
Shae Simmons was also moved in this deal. He was once a highly touted back end relief prospect, but he has only been able to throw 28.1 Major League innings since 2014. He was expendable for this team, especially given what the Braves were able to acquire in this trade.
Overall, from the what we gave up point of view, this trade has less to do with the Braves thoughts about Mallex as a player and has much more to do with having a log jam of outfielders for the foreseeable future. With that log jam, the Braves opted to diversify their assets and acquire a pitcher with very high upside and another early round draft pick from 2016.
Luiz Gohara, from Brazil, is the third best prospect on the Mariners, according to Baseball America, and second best according to Keith Law. Kiley McDaniel, former FanGraphs prospect writer and current member of the Braves front office, was high on Gohara when he was writing at FanGraphs. This is not the first time that the Braves have acquired a player that McDaniel has previously written about in a positive manner.
Two years ago, McDaniel stated that the big bodied Gohara (6’3” and 210-250 lbs), has an easy delivery with a fastball ranging from 92-97 mph. He has two breaking balls and a very good changeup. The tools are there for him to be a starter, but as with any left-hander the option to eventually be in the bullpen is always there. The size of Gohara is a positive of him eventually being a mid-rotation arm that can throw a lot of innings.
Currently 20-years-old, Gohara threw 69.2 innings across 13 starts and two levels (A- and A) for the Mariners last year. He had a 2.20 ERA with 81 strikeouts, 23 walks, and two home runs allowed. He also had a hamstring issue that saw him miss some time.
Thomas Burrows is a 22-year-old out of the University of Alabama. Shorter but stout, at 6’1” 225, Burrows went in the fourth round last year and saw some success in his brief professional debut. He pitched entirely out of the bullpen in A- ball, and should have a quick path to the Majors as a reliever. He set Alabama’s career save record last year.
This trade is more-or-less Smith for Gohara, with a lefty-reliever that was drafted rather early and a high potential late inning reliever also being swapped. I like the trade from the Braves perspective, and Gohara seems to be more of a sure thing than the other volatile starters the Braves have acquired over the past few years.