Yesterday, the trade we’ve been hearing about for two weeks finally happened. The Braves sent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, and a PTBNL (most likely Matt Harrison) to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay. This is one of those trades where you really have to pay attention to the contract status of the players. Salty is in his first year of service, so he is going to be cheap for several years to come. None of the other Braves prospects have any MLB service time. Tex makes $9 million this year and has one more year of arbitration and Mahay makes $1.2 million and will become a free agent. In other words, the Braves just sent a lot of cheap talent to the Rangers in return for superior expensive talent. But this doesn’t mean it was a bad deal. Actually, I like the move.
Both Tex and Mahay are earning salaries slightly less than they generate in revenue. I have Mahay valued around $3.5 million and Teixeira around $11 million for 2006. With revenue growth they’re both probably contributing more than that. It’s tough to lose a guy like Salty, but I think the Braves are going to win now. Salty probably ought to be playing catcher until he proves his bat is good enough to play in the field. And what the Braves get in return is good. Teixeira is an excellent hitter and defender, and Mahay gives the team a decent lefty in the pen. The Rangers get some quality talent to win down the road. It’s no surprise for me that the deal makes sense for both teams: voluntary trade is mutually beneficial, and Scheurholz and Daniels are smart guys. This deal reminds me of the J.D. Drew trade, where the Braves gave up some quality prospects to win now.
Why did the Braves go for hitting instead of pitching? Well, pitching is expensive right now. What matters is the run differential. If you can’t stop the other team from scoring, you need to score more runs. Plus, Scheurholz may find some pitching by the end of the day—rumor has it that Octavio Dotel is coming to the Braves for Kyle Davies.
I am somewhat surprised to see the Braves give up so much young pitching. If Davies and Harrison go, the Braves are going to have to find some major-league ready pitching help for next year. I don’t think Jo-Jo Reyes is quite ready, and I wish the Braves could afford to let him get some more seasoning in the minors.
Will the Braves sign Teixeira long term? I think it makes sense to try to do so in the offseason. Play against a player’s fear of injury and fondness for Atlanta and lock him up if you can.