ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The Cardinals and Braves reached a deal Thursday involving lefty pitcher Jaime Garcia.
The deal sends Garcia, whose option was picked up by the Cardinals at the end of this season for $12 million, to Atlanta in exchange for three prospects.
One of the three newcomers is 24-year-old righty John Gant. Gant debuted in the majors in 2016, posting a 4.86 ERA in 20 games with the Braves. He struck out 49 hitters in 50 innings, but finished with a WHIP of 1.5.
Also included in the deal are infielder Luke Dykstra and right-handed pitcher Chris Ellis. Dykstra, 21, plays second and short and hit .304 in 81 games at Single-A. Ellis, 24, started 28 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, posting an ERA of 4.49 and a 7.7 K/9 mark.
Garcia threw his first fully-healthy season in five years for the Birds in 2016, making 30 starts for the first time since 2011. The lefty had bright spots, including a one-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers, but badly skidded to the finish line, failing to throw more than four innings in any of his final five starts.
Still, left-handed pitchers retain their value. The Cardinals prudently picked up the option for five million dollars less than the qualifying offer in the hopes Garcia would be useful as an insurance arm or trade piece.
With Mike Leake, Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez returning to the rotation, Lance Lynn recovered from Tommy John surgery and Alex Reyes set to join the starting five, Garcia looked to be crowded out as a starter.
After testing much of their young pitching depth last season, the Cardinals unsurprisingly wanted to fortify their list of potential call-ups. Gant and Ellis give St. Louis a deeper stable to pull from as they massage their bullpen and craft their future rotation candidates.