Trades Of The Decade: Teixeira To The Braves

Once the Braves acquired Mark Teixeira before the 2007 trade deadline, they started thinking of themselves as a World Series contender. They were 4.5 games behind the division-leading Mets and 3.0 games behind the Phillies, but there was still a sense of excitement when GM John Schuerholz made the move.

"We've got the team to win the World Series," Brian McCann told the AP. Tim Hudson and Edgar Renteria echoed McCann's comments, and why not? The Mets added Luis Castillo and the Phillies added Kyle Lohse, but the Braves acquired a premier bat who was still a year and a half away from free agency.

Scott Thorman had been playing first regularly before the trade, so Teixeira was an immense upgrade. To acquire Tex and and Ron Mahay, the Braves sent Beau Jones, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Rangers.

The Braves gave up their top three prospects in the deal – Saltalamacchia, Andrus and Harrison – so Baseball America called it a a "good haul" for GM Jon Daniels.

Saltalamacchia had potential to "blossom into one of the game's best catchers," but he was expendable to the Braves, who had Brian McCann. They could also afford to deal Andrus because of shortstops Edgar Renteria, Brent Lillibridge and Yunel Escobar.

Saltalamacchia had already arrived in the big leagues at the time of the trade, but Andrus was just 18. Baseball America considered him a "classic projection prospect" because no one was sure he would hit enough to become a major league regular. He was still raw, but Daniels said he had to obtain more than draft choices for his first baseman.

"We said we were not going to allow ourselves to run the course on [Teixeira's contract] and not have anything to show for it," Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Braves were willing to give so much up because Teixeira was one of the best all-around first basemen in baseball. They finished 84-78, 5.0 games behind the Phillies, but it was in spite of their big acquisition; Teixeira hit .317/.404/.615 down the stretch, with 17 homers.

They traded him to the Angels a year later for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek. Not much, in comparison to the bounty they gave up for Teixeira.  Kotchman was later flipped to Boston for Adam LaRoche, who is now a free agent.  One other remnant of the trade is lefty Brett DeVall, who the Braves drafted last year with a supplemental pick for the loss of Mahay.

  • Harrison has been hittable in parts of two major league seasons and he missed the second half of this season with an injury, but he's 24 and just two seasons removed from top prospect status.
  • Andrus hit .267/.329/.373 as a rookie this year and was one of the best defensive shortstops around, according to UZR. He just turned 21 in August.
  • Saltalamacchia hit .233/.290/.371 this year before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. He hasn't come close to actualizing the 25 homer potential he had a couple years ago and questions about his defense linger.
  • Feliz, 21, astounded in his major league debut this summer, striking out 39 and walking just eight in 31 innings. The incredible part? He allowed a mere 13 hits. He's not likely to sustain those rates, of course but he is a top prospect and could crack the team's rotation as soon as next year.
  • Jones has yet to play in the majors, but the 23-year-old struck out 11 batters per nine innings in the Rangers' system this year. 

That's better than a "good haul." Without the Teixeira trade, the Rangers wouldn't have such a highly-regarded farm system and might not be as well-positioned to contend annually. Before the trade, the Rangers offered Teixeira $140MM to sign long-term. Looking back, they must be thrilled he didn't accept.



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