In 2007, the Braves made a move to win the World Series. Teams do it pretty often when they have an area of concern or weakness on their roster. Whether it was for Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, Adrian Gonzalez, or Roy Halladay, if you want to acquire a proven superstar, you're going to have to give up a lot of young talent. The Braves gave up a lot in their trade with Texas on July 30th, 2007, but perhaps it wasn't as much as some think.
Elvis Andrus has already established himself as one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball, and he's just 22-years old. While his hitting has left something to be desired -- .266/.216/.333 in 2011, .266/.334/.333 career -- his impressive speed on the base paths helps make up for it at the top of the Rangers lineup. It remains to be seen if he'll be able to consistently post an OPS above .700 for an entire season, but as long as his stellar work in the field continues, he figures to stay in the Rangers lineup for at least the next few years.
Hindsight is 20-20, but at the time, the Braves felt like they were set at the shortstop position with Yunel Escobar and Brent Lillibridge. They'll miss Andrus the most among any of the players sent to Texas.
Neftali Feliz was a young kid who could throw hard at the time of the trade, and he's turned out to be quite the closer for Texas. It remains to be seen if he'll end up in the rotation or not, but the kid can flat out light up a radar gun. The 2010 Rookie of the Year for the AL will be missed in Atlanta, but the back-end of our bullpen seems to be doing pretty well without him.
Matt Hairrison came to Texas as a pretty highly regarded pitching prospect, but hasn't quite lived up to the hype thus far. He's struggled at the Major League level (20-14, 5.05 ERA, 5.01 FIP, 4.98 K/9, 3.83 BB/9), though he isn't a horrible option for the Rangers at the end of their rotation. He'd probably be seventh or eighth option on the Braves starting rotation depth chart, though, and he'd only see time in Atlanta if a complete emergency came up. Not too much lost here.
Pitcher Beau Jones spent a few seasons with the Rangers Minor League clubs before making the move to Houston. He's currently pitching in triple-A and might turn out into a 5th starter or long-man in the bullpen one day.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is an interesting fellow. He didn't have a spot in Atlanta with Brian McCann holding things down behind the plate, but he was such a promising prospect in the Minor Leagues that the Braves hated to see him go. The guy who "headlined" the deal has yet to do much in the Major Leagues, and he's currently with the Boston Red Sox.
The Braves brought in Teixeira to solidify the lineup on a team they thought was capable of winning a World Series. Tex certainly didn't disappoint; He hit an incredible .317/.404/.615 in the final two months after coming over from Texas, and if Chipper and Renteria didn't get hurt down the stretch run, that team makes the playoffs with no problems and is the likely favorite to win it all in the NL.
Many figured the Braves would try to re-sign Teixeira in the next 12 months with Andruw Jones departing for free agency in the near future, but the Braves Front Office refused to pay the All-Star. He hit well in 2008 (.283/.390/.512), but after the team fell out of contention, he was eventually sent to Los Angeles of Anaheim for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek.
Ron Mahay spent just two months in Atlanta and struggled with control more often than not. He pitched 23 innings for us down the stretch and then left via free agency.
Trade Grade: C-
The Braves made a big move to win now, and it backfired on them. It happens on occasion in baseball. Still though, this trade still isn't the end of the world. It feel like fans unfairly associate this trade with the one with Anaheim. They were completely different and both had different circumstances. You honestly cannot tell me that you thought, "Meh. Teixeira is nice, but I'd rather have a bunch of 18-year old kids who may or may not make the Major Leagues one day." at the time of the trade. You were ecstatic, and so were the Braves players and coaches.
Elvis Andrus' glove will be missed, but he's certainly not a star by any means. Neftali Feliz would be a nice addition to the bullpen, but Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters seem to be doing just fine out there in the 8th and 9th innings. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hasn't done much in the Major Leagues, and our catcher now seems to be pretty decent. Matt Hairrison is (at best) a decent #4 starter and he would currently be in Gwinnett if he still resided with the Braves. Same goes for Beau Jones, only he'd be in Mississippi.
Teixeira was great in Atlanta and it's the Front Office's fault for not offering him a large contract. This trade certainly wasn't a good one, but it really wasn't a complete disaster.
When I look back on it, I can only think, "What if...". What if Edgar Renteria doesn't sprain an ankle? What if Chipper's oblique doesn't start acting up on him down the stretch run? What if the bullpen doesn't fall apart in August and September? That team had the potential to be special, and at the time, acquiring Mark Teixeira was arguably worth the risk.