The 10 worst Atlanta Braves trades

The best GM in Braves history is responsible for four of the five worst deals on our list. Go figure.

10. JS/Ryan Klesko, Bret Boone and Jason Shiell to San Diego for Wally Joyner, Reggie Sanders and Quilvio Veras. As someone who thinks you can’t have enough speed, I LOVED this deal at the time. But then Klesko ended up stealing more bases in 2000 than Sanders and only two fewer than Veras, who was released in ’01. Sanders slugged 59 homers combined the year before and after the trade; with Atlanta he hit 11. As for Boone, if he had to do ‘roids, why’d he wait ’til leaving the Braves?

9. Paul Richards/Mickey Rivers and Clint Compton to California for Bob Priddy and Hoyt Wilhelm. Yes, the knuckleballer helped the Braves clinch the division in 1969 and was solid in ’70, but who trades a prospect for a 47-year-old? Rivers retired with 267 steals and a .295 BA.

8. Bobby/Steve Bedrosian and Milt Thompson to Philly for Ozzie Virgil and Pete Smith. An understandable deal, as Bobby was looking to add young pitching and Smith was a very talented arm. But intentions don’t matter on our list. Bedrock won a Cy Young and saved 143 games after the trade and Thompson became a quality platoon outfielder. Virgil was a one-time All-Star with the Braves but good luck finding an Atlanta fan who remembers him fondly.

7. Eddie Robinson/Andre Thornton to the Cubs for Joe Pepitone. The pretty boy ex-Yankee lasted one month and 11 AB’s with the Braves. Thornton slugged 253 homers and drove in 895 runs after leaving Atlanta.

6. John Mullen/Gary Matthews to Philadelphia for Bob Walk. Sarge was MVP of the ’83 NLCS and ranked fifth in the NL MVP voting the following year. Three years and a day after the trade, Walk was released. He won 12 games as a Brave with a 4.85 ERA and 1.472 WHIP.

5. JS/Jermaine Dye and Jamie Walker to KC for Michael Tucker and Keith Lockhart. Often overlooked as one of JS’ worst mainly because Dye was so underrated. The 2005 World Series MVP hit more than 30 homers four times and drove in 118 or more runs thrice. Throw-in Walker emerged as a serviceable southpaw in the ‘pen. For that the Braves received a solid fourth OF and Capt. Mediocre, a generous nickname considering his .248 BA and .671 OPS.

4. John Mullen/Brett Butler, Rick Behenna and Brook Jacoby for Len Barker. A trade that lives in Braves infamy. Butler stole nearly 500 bases with an OBP better than .380 after leaving Atlanta while Jacoby was a two-time All-Star with the Tribe. Barker was 10-20 for the Braves with a 4.64 ERA and 1.391 WHIP.

3. JS/Beau Jones, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus for Ron Mahay and Borasbot. A speedy SS and an established closer sure would fit nicely on the 2011 Braves. Down the road this could rank as THE worst.

2. JS/David Justice and Marquis Grissom to Cleveland for Kenny Lofton and Alan Embree. I liked this trade at the time; Justice was coming of an injury while Lofton was the most exciting player in the game, batting .317 with 14 homers and 75 steals in ’96. Lofton wasn’t horrible with the Braves, batting .33 with a .409 OBP, but he was successful on only 27 of 47 SB attempts and famously clashed with Bobby. He returned to Cleveland the following year as a free agent and was once again a productive sparkplug.

Justice hit 96 homers with a .294 BA and .918 OPS in four years on Lake Erie. Marquis was on the downside of his career but still topped 20 homers four times post-Atlanta. It’s fair to argue that, had this trade not been made, the Braves would own more than one World Series crown.

1. JS/Adam Wainwright, Ray King and Jason Marquis to St. Louis for Just Disabled and Eli Marrero. This trade might’ve made the list even if the Braves had re-signed ol’ J.D., who was at his best in 2004 — until the playoffs, when he registered four singles and one RBI. Wainwright, meanwhile, was dominant out of the ‘pen in 2006, helping the Cards win the World Series. In four subsequent seasons as a starter the Brunswick native posted a sterling 64-34 record with an ERA below three, improving each year; Wainwright finished third in the 2009 NL Cy Young voting and second last year. And he’s still only 29.

Honorable mention:

Eddie Robinson/Dusty Baker and Ed Goodson to the Dodgers for Jerry Royster, Tom Paciorek, Lee Lacy and Jim Wynn. Royster stuck around for 10 years but didn’t impress, hitting .246 with a .310 OBP as a Brave. The Toy Cannon made like Reggie Sanders as a Brave and was gone after one year. Lacy was dealt back to LA along with Elias Sosa for a washed-up Mike Marshall and Wimpy became a productive player AFTER he was released by the Braves.  Dusty went on to hit 140 homers for the hated Dodgers.

Paul Richards/Rico Carty to Texas for Jim Panther. One of the more popular Braves was dealt for a middle reliever who, in 30 innings for Atlanta, allowed 45 hits with a 7.63 ERA. Carty struggled with the Rangers but rebounded with the Indians in ’75, twice batting higher than .300. He topped 80 RBI three more seasons before retiring.

PR, JM, Bobby/Clay Carroll, Ken Dayley, Brian Fisher, Duane Ward for Milt Pappas, Ken Oberkfell, Rick Cerone and Doyle Alexander. That quartet of talented relievers saved 326 games post-Atlanta. Cerone hit .216 during his brief tenure with the Braves while Alexander and Pappas won 29 games in A-town. Oberkfell, of course, represented malaise better than any Jimmy Carter speech. One caveat: Trading Duane Ward for Doyle Alexander made the Smoltz deal possible.

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29 thoughts on “The 10 worst Atlanta Braves trades

  1. To be fair to JS, trading Justice and Marquis freed up the cash needed to resign Maddux and Glavine.

  2. Some worthy or maybe a better term unworthy worst trades.
    Quick review—-#10- Wouldn’t have been so bad, had not Veras gotten hurt, he was having a really good year in 2000, I can’t remember what happened here—-career ending?
    #9——I always see this on the list of worst trades, but really, Wilhelm helped us win the division in ’69 which was one of the few Braves’ bright spots in 20 years, if we would have had Mick the Quick, we still would have sucked big time in the 70′s and most Braves fans would have learned to hate him.
    #8—–This trade should be higher on the list, I remember wanting to throw up when I heard about this deal. I hate Ozzie Virgil.
    #7—–The Braves probably thought 20 people would show up to watch Pepitone. A horrible, horrible trade, but I doubt that the idiots that were running the Braves back then would have ever given Thornton a chance.
    #6—–I had a hard time understanding this at the time, now seems inconceivable.
    #5—–I don’t know why the Braves wanted to get rid of Dye, this is truly a guy that no one seems to want to keep.
    #4—–The other trades may have a worse long-time effect, but the name Len Barker curdles Braves fans stomach, I’d have to vote this as #1.
    #3——Probably will be the worst, I don’t like to think about it.
    #2——I didn’t understand this one either, although I think the Braves wanted to part ways with Justice. I’d rank 3 and 4 worse.
    #1——Let me say, I can’t stand old JD either, and Wainwright is a helluva pitcher, but I still think this is no worse than #4.

  3. Wainwright was the best player they gave up on this list, he’s only 29 and they knew when they made that trade they’d never re-sign JD. One of JS’ more shortsighted deals.

    As for Veras, he was released. He sucked in ’01 and was injury-prone the year before. Crappy trade no matter how you cut it.

  4. That was JS’s stated reaon for trading David and MG. I bought it at the time but he later proved that veracity isn’t really his strong suit, so I’m left wondering.

  5. I think the Neagle-Schmidt swap is deserving of a mention. Sure, Neagle was great in ’97 with 5.4 WAR but Schmidt was considerably better every year after. Not to mention 5 years younger and considerably cheaper.

    The Braves got about 9 WAR out of Neagle meanwhile Schmidt went on to post 31 WAR over his next 7 years, 6 of which were team controlled and would have belonged to ATL if they hadn’t made this deal.

  6. At the time the Braves traded Rico Carty, his knees were so bad that he could no longer play the outfield, so they got what they could for him.

    And then, less than three months later, the American League adopted the DH rule, and the Beeg Boy once again had a position (even if it turned out not to be with the Rangers).

  7. A lot of good points here. I think the worst was either the Butler trade or the one that sent Darrell Evans and Marty Perez to SF. Wainwright may become #1, but that will be tough. Butler was the 2nd greatest leadoff hitter of his generation. And Evans should be in the HOF.

  8. I was just coming in here to lobby for an honorable mention for Evans. I know the mid 70′s Braves were considered underachievers but Dusty, Darrell (and to a lesser extent, Ralph Garr) all went away and had solid, productive careers (I agree about Howdy Doody being Hall worthy) while the Braves’ return on those deals was negligible. Even just keeping Lee Lacy would have helped offset the Baker trade.

  9. Howdy Doody gets so little respect that he can’t even make a list on a site named for Rowland Office. What’s up with that?

    All those trades — Aaron, Evans, Baker, Garr — all happened in rapid succession, it seemed. Knucksie almost got traded to the White Sox. What a terrible time to be a Braves fan.

  10. I missed it as it happened but I was sort of wandering through the wreckage as I became a Braves fan, mainly because management, unsatisfied with giving away Evans and (especially) Baker for has beens, traded them both to teams in the division.

  11. He also was a first baseman who couldn’t break .800 in OPS. There was a reason he played for a new team every few years.

  12. Call me crazy, but trading away 300 HR’s, 1,500 hits, 1,200 walks, and stellar defense for two years of a journeyman first baseman who didn’t get on base much, had little power, and was known primarily for being a hot dog seems a bit worse than “wasn’t good”.

    To further point out the idiocy of Braves management, they moved Evans off of 3B to make room for Jerry Goddamned Royster.

    Tokyokie makes a great point about the Carty trade. Also, Carty couldn’t play 1B because Aaron was there, and Garr needed to play.

  13. I just thought it merited an honorable mention. It’s always been side by side with the Baker-Wynn trade in my mind.

    Eventually, Darrell was in position to help deny the ’84 Padres the World Series, which I think would have broken the Seventh Seal, so maybe it was all for the best…

  14. #3 has gotten the Rangers to the world series, twice. it should knock wainwright to #2. The braves should get a share of that postseason money from the rangers. Sure the braves gave up a bonified (albeit injury marred when with the braves) future ace, but they did get Drew’s best year and another playoff appearance. The haul that the rangers got and the relative dust that the braves ended up with is just cruel.

  15. I rarely comment, but i did some searching and wound up here The 10 worst Atlanta
    Braves trades | Rowland’s Office. And I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Is it simply me or does it seem like a few of the responses look as if they are left by brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting at additional online social sites, I’d like to follow everything fresh you
    have to post. Could you make a list of every one of your communal
    pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or
    twitter feed?

  16. The Butler, Texieira, and Bedrock trades were the worst, and the Wainwright currently hurts, but I cried when my favorite Brave, Felipe Alou, was traded for Jim Nash. Jim Nash? It almost appears as if management tried to get rid of everyone of value from the ’69 season.? And then repeated the process after every succesful season.

  17. Few thoughts
    - Point taken on Justice deal freeing financial space to resign Maddux/Glavine. But I think our franchise has been snake bitten with the David Justice curse. We became greedy with our abundance of outfield talent and were left to make 1 more WS appearance (swept) while David came a Jose Mesa blown save away from finishing with 3 rings with 3 different teams.

    - It took 2 bogus trades to destroy an outfield of Andruw Jones (19), Jermaine Dye (22) & Ryan Klesko (25). 3 years later we were left starting converted NFL safety Brian Jordan and Gerald Williams.

    - Texas vs St.Louis trades. Although Drew gave us significantly more than Teixera, at this point the damage from the Rangers trade is mostly done. But Wainwright is the one that just keeps on giving as he is on his way to a 3rd ring with the Cardinals. Beyond the fact a stud pitcher is nearly always more valuable than a positional player, the pieces we gave up to Texas have been replaced . But having Wainwright on todays 2013 Braves pitching staff would have surely propelled us to atleast the NLCS. Hindsight, who isn’t willing to allow the division streak to end 2 seasons earlier in exchange for a playoff series victory when you haven’t won in the playoffs in 12 years running. . . .

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