I’ll trade you, but no take-backs!
As those that have followed the Braves rise to the top and subsequent slide back to the middle of the pack over the past two decades, one would notice that many of the key acquisitions during this time have come via the trade. It is a part of baseball that garners anticipation, excitement and sometimes disappointment for an organization and its fans.
I thought it would be fun to look at some of my favorite Braves trades, and some of my not-so-favorites, because we may have some trading fun to talk about here in the near future. I always like to hear the bad news first, so I can enjoy the good news a littler more… or at least temper my expectations. Here goes:
Top 5 Least Favorite Braves Trades:
5. Ryan Klesko, Bret Boone & Jason Shiell to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Reggie Sanders, Quilvio Veras & Wally Joyner
Sanders was utterly terrible in his one season with the Braves while Veras tore an ACL and never appeared in the majors again after Atlanta. Despite there being no way to know these things would happen, Klesko, just 28 at the time, was a part of three World Series team and a product of the system. Boone had been the big off-season acquisition just one season earlier, so why trade these central pieces coming off a World Series appearance?
4. Jermaine Dye & Jamie Walker to the Kansas City Royals for Michael Tucker & Keith Lockhart
Here’s one where you can just say,”what if?” What if the Braves had held on to Jermaine Dye? Would he be the same player he became in Kansas City after some struggles? He’d more than likely have contributed at least as much as Tucker (the 10th overall pick in the ’92 draft) did in his two season with Atlanta. Lockhart proved to have the most staying power, lasting six seasons as a chief reserve and pinch-hitter. Hardly an even up swap for Dye and his 286 homers since 1997.
3. Adam Wainwright and Ray King to the St. Louis Cardinals for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero
This is one reason the Braves find themselves looking for two front-line starting pitchers this off-season. J.D. Drew has moved on to greener pastures twice since having a career year for Atlanta in 2004. And I’m just going to say it now, Drew was not the second coming of Mickey Mantle. All Wainwright has done is prove the scouts that signed him right, developing into a staff ace by the age of 25. Too bad he doing so for the St. Louis Cardinals.
2. David Justice and Marquis Grissom to the Cleveland Indians for Kenny Lofton and Alan Embree
This is the ultimate in head-shakers. I couldn’t fathom the logic as a teenager and I still struggle to find anyone who would do this deal. Granted, Lofton was the ultimate lead-off hitter in 1997 and not the rent-a-player of the past seven or eight years, but still. Justice, who’s homer gave the Braves their lone World Series title of the 90s, was coming off an injury-plagued season but was still a potent middle of the order threat. Grissom was a consummate professional and still, in my opinion, every bit the center fielder Lofton ever was… and then some. To make matters worse, all three men would be playing in the same outfield in 1998… when Lofton signed a free-agent contract with Cleveland. Ouch. Atlanta did get 86 appearances out of Embree though. Heck of a silver lining.
1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Beau Jones and Neftali Feliz to the Texas Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay
We have not even seen this trade bear fruit for the Texas Rangers, but it may be the deal that just keeps on getting worse for Atlanta. Teixeira was dealt away for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek almost a year to the day later. Would you do that prospect buffet deal for Kotchman? Me neither. Of all the deals I’ve covered here, this is a trade that simply should have never been made. Teixeira turned down an 8-year $140 million extension from the Rangers and I would have to say that common sense logic would dictate the Braves would have to pony-up even more to keep him. Mahay bounced to Kansas City for a richer deal than the Braves wanted to give him, so the Braves really came out of this deal having seriously depleted their rich farm system for a calender year of Teixeira and 30 appearances from a 36-year old left-hander.
The Braves may not have known that Teixeira had already turned down that extension, but this trade was unable to push Atlanta in the play-offs. Maybe it was just all the poor luck of injuries this season that forced Frank Wren‘s hand when it came to trading Teixeira. Maybe it was Scott Boras and his hope of a $200 million pay-day for his client that forced the deal. If it underscores anything, it is that there are no promises in the game in this day and age. Even a player who spent his college years in Atlanta wants what he has coming. That’s why Boras claims a nice finder’s fee for that big contract Tex has coming.
So who is ready for a big trade this off-season?
Up next, my Top-5 Favorite Braves trades of the past 20 years.