10 biggest trades in Braves history

December 1st, 2021

ATLANTA -- Whether it be a child dealing a glossy card from a newly unsealed pack or a general manager trying to make the most of his assets, trades have always had a place in baseball culture.

Everyone wants to win the trade, and there are many instances when one side can declare itself the undisputed victor. But the initial exhilaration or dismay a fan base initially feels with the completion of a trade is often tempered over time. Three decades later, there's no doubt the Braves got the better end of the John Smoltz deal. Atlanta fans are also still understandably concerned about what was sacrificed for the one-year stints J.D. Drew and Mark Teixeira experienced with their team.

Nearly every trade has been surrounded by some level of uncertainty. The only constant centers around the fact they elicit emotions from both sides.

Here is a look at 10 of the biggest trades in Braves history.

1. John who?
Braves got from Tigers: RHP John Smoltz
Braves gave up: RHP Doyle Alexander
Date: Aug. 12, 1987

When the Braves acquired a Double-A pitcher named John Smoltz, nobody realized it would prove to be arguably the most influential trade in franchise history. Alexander posted a 1.53 ERA and the Tigers won each of the 11 games he started over the remainder of the season. But while Detroit gained an American League East title from the deal, Atlanta gained a Hall of Fame pitcher, who produced the seventh-highest Baseball Reference WAR (69.6) in franchise history.

Smoltz won the 1996 National League Cy Young Award, earned eight All-Star selections and has the distinction of being the only player who was on the 40-man roster throughout Atlanta's run of 14 consecutive division titles.

2. McGriff provides a spark
Braves got from Padres: 1B Fred McGriff
Braves gave up: OF Vince Moore, RHP Donnie Elliott, OF Melvin Nieves
Date: July 18, 1993

Sitting nine games back in the NL West race, the Braves got the spark they needed from McGriff, who witnessed a press box fire a few hours before homering in his Atlanta debut. The Braves went 52-18 the rest of the way to capture the third of their 14 consecutive division titles. McGriff helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series and earned an All-Star selection in three of his four full seasons there.

While Moore never advanced past the Double-A level, Elliott totaled 31 appearances for San Diego and spent the rest of his career in the Minors. Nieves' two most productive Major League seasons occurred immediately after the Padres traded him to the Tigers before the 1996 campaign.

3. Hello Huddy
Braves got from A's: RHP Tim Hudson
Braves gave up: LHP Dan Meyer, RHP Juan Cruz, OF Charles Thomas
Date: Dec. 16, 2004

This was a swing-and-miss for A's general manager Billy Beane, who unsuccessfully gambled on Meyer's high prospect ranking and the out-of-nowhere second half Thomas produced in 2004. Hudson produced the fifth-most wins (113) in Atlanta history, and his nine seasons worth of contributions are immortalized in the Braves' Hall of Fame.

Meyer posted a 7.98 ERA over 17 appearances for Oakland. Cruz had a 7.44 ERA in 28 relief appearances during his only season with the A's. Thomas hit .109 over 30 games for Oakland in 2005 and spent the remainder of his career in the Minors.

4. J-Hey no more
Braves got from Cardinals: RHP Shelby Miller, RHP
Braves gave up: OF Jason Heyward, RHP Jordan Walden
Date: Nov. 17, 2014

The Braves began a massive rebuilding process by dealing Heyward before he entered his last controllable season. The outfielder produced a .797 OPS during his lone season with the Cardinals, and then he signed an eight-year, $184 million deal with the Cubs. While Walden made just 12 more career relief appearances after the trade, Miller realized his potential as he posted a 3.02 ERA over the 33 starts made in his only season with Atlanta.

5. The Dansby Deal
Braves got from D-backs: OF Ender Inciarte, SS Dansby Swanson, RHP
Braves gave up: RHP Shelby Miller, LHP Gabe Speier
Date: Dec. 9, 2015

Six months after taking Swanson with the first overall pick in the MLB Draft, the D-backs included the shortstop in this mega deal. Miller posted a 6.15 ERA over 20 starts in 2016 and then underwent Tommy John surgery in '17. Swanson established himself as Atlanta's everyday shortstop by the end of '16, and Inciarte won an NL Gold Glove Award in each of his first three seasons with the Braves.

6. Waino for Drew
Braves got from Cardinals: OF J.D. Drew, Utlity Eli Marrero
Braves gave up: RHP Adam Wainwright, LHP Ray King, RHP Jason Marquis
Date: Dec. 13, 2003

Without Drew belting 31 homers and producing a 1.006 OPS during his only season with Atlanta, the Braves' streak of 14 straight division titles might have ended at 12. But because the Georgia native didn't re-sign with Atlanta, this trade has remained a sore spot for Braves fans who have seen Wainwright spend more than a decade providing significant value to St. Louis' pitching staff.

Marquis was effective in just one of his three seasons with St. Louis. Marrero produced an .894 OPS during his lone season with Atlanta, but his big league career ended two years later.

7. Big bet on Tex
Braves got from Rangers: 1B Mark Teixeira, LHP Ron Mahay
Braves gave up: SS , C , LHP Matt Harrison, RHP LHP Beau Jones
Date: July 31, 2007

Two months before ending his successful career as a general manager, John Schuerholz took one last mighty swing with the acquisition of Teixeira, whose attempt to help the Braves reach the postseason was blemished by the ankle injury that sidelined Edgar Renteria for most of August. When an attempt to extend Teixeira's stay proved unsuccessful, the first baseman was traded for a minimal return before the 2008 Trade Deadline.

So for essentially one calendar year of Teixeira, the Braves traded a few of the key pieces Texas used to reach the World Series in 2010 and '11. Saltalamacchia never lived up to expections, but Andrus became a mainstay in the Rangers' lineup by '09 and Harrison had at least a couple effective seasons before his left shoulder deteriorated. Feliz was one of the game's top closers in '10-11, but like Saltalamacchia and Harrison, his star quickly faded.

8. Simba's exit
Braves got from Angels: LHP , SS , RHP Chris Ellis
Braves gave up: SS Andrelton Simmons, C
Date: Nov. 12, 2015

Concerned about Simmons' offensive potential and the possibility his defense would decline once he started drawing an eight-figure salary, the Braves used the heralded Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop to add to the surplus of pitching prospects compiled during their rebuilding process.

Newcomb showed some flashes of potential in his first full season in 2018. But as soon as Aybar proved to be a bust during the early weeks of the '16 season, Braves fans became more enraged about losing Simmons, who captured his fourth Gold Glove Award and second straight in '18.

9. Goodbye DJ and Grissom
Braves got from Indians: OF Kenny Lofton, LHP Alan Embree
Braves gave up: OF Marquis Grissom, OF David Justice
Date: March 25, 1997

This stands as possibly the most initially shocking trade in franchise history. Less than two calendar years after Justice hit the decisive homer and Grissom caught the final out of the 1995 World Series, both Atlanta fan favorites were gone. Lofton played just 122 games during his injury-marred lone season with the Braves. Meanwhile, Justice continued to be one of baseball's top offensive threats through 2000. He produced a 1.013 OPS while helping the Indians reach the '97 World Series. Grissom notched a .713 OPS during his lone season in Cleveland.

10. It led to more
Braves got from Royals: OF Michael Tucker, 2B Keith Lockhart
Braves gave up: OF Jermaine Dye, LHP Jamie Walker
Date: March 27, 1997

Two days after dealing their two veteran outfielders, the Braves dealt the future benefits of Dye, who averaged 28 homers while producing an .863 OPS for the Royals and A's from 1999-2002. Tucker enjoyed two productive seasons with Atlanta before being included in the trade that brought Bret Boone and Mike Remlinger to the Braves ahead of the '99 season, which ended with Atlanta making its fifth World Series trip within a nine-year span. Lockhart proved to be a serviceable infielder with Atlanta through the end of '02.