Salty for Tex

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.

12 Responses “Salty for Tex”

  1. Jason says:

    This is my prediction – the Braves will not make the playoffs this season. They will not attempt to re-sign Teixeira (after 2008 for him). Braves fans will rue this trade as an incredibly expensive rental that didn’t pay off. Even if the Braves somehow do make the playoffs, would a loss in the Divisonal Series REALLY be worth this trade? This all depends, I suppose, on what everyone’s definition of “win now” means. To me, that means that you are attempting to win a World Series. To the Braves, “win now” means just getting to the playoffs and getting another humiliating loss in the Division Series.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Davies traded for Dotel.

  2. Johnny says:

    I agree. Schuerholz knew that an arm would be too expensive and that the best way to get to the playoffs would be to get a hitter. For us to get the best hitter on the market is nothing short of remarkable considering the other teams that were in the hunt for Teixeira.
    Giving up the talent that we did is tough but the Braves seem to find and grow more. Really though besides Jermaine Dye and Jason Schmidt, who have we traded in the divisional run era that went on to have a good career in MLB?

    That we are even talking about Dotel or Arroyo is an indicator that the Braves are looking at 1 to 3 more years of being in the hunt before we go to re building mode. I gonna enjoy it while I can.

  3. JB says:

    The thinking behind this deal is sound. It makes sense to have a high time preference if you’re still in the race; Schuerholz undoubtedly had the Cardinals in mind after watching them win a World Series despite 83 regular season wins.

    Trading prospects for stars is usually a winning strategy; for every Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen deal, there are probably dozens more of the Fred McGriff for Melvin Nieves, Donnie Elliott and Vince Moore variety.

    The Braves may regret this deal someday but it’s hard to fault the rationale right now.

  4. Pizza Cutter says:

    Let’s call this deal what it is: A gamble. A gamble where the odds are pretty even up, but a gamble.

  5. Andrew says:

    I know it is a radical idea but I would prefer if the Braves went to a 4 man rotation for the rest of the year, relying on the new relief arms to get the Braves to the post.

  6. Dave says:

    It appears (to me) that Scheurholz has taken a now or never approach to winning another championship. I don’t know whether to interpret that as a commentary on the team’s future or on Scheurholz’s future. I mean the man won’t be GM forever and he may feel some urgency for his own legacy. Between the three trades for Teixeira, Dotel and Royce Ring, it looks as if the Braves gave away a who’s who list of their top ten (maybe 20) prospects. It actually looks to me like Will Startup is major league ready 49k/18bb in 49+ IP at Richmond and is nearly 4 years younger than Ring (33K/27BB in 38+ IP career in majors). But then as a Cartersville, GA resident I have an emotional attachment to Startup and may be biased in evaluating him.

  7. Mac says:

    What did the Braves give up for Teixeira, really? Saltalamacchia is a terrific prospect, but he wasn’t going to catch and as a first baseman he’s pretty ordinary. Harrison didn’t really fit in a rotation that already had Chuck James and (presumably) Jo-Jo Reyes. The other guys are all years away, as in 2010. The chances were that none of the players given up was ever going to be a positive contributor to the Braves.

    Davies, of course, is useless. I don’t like the Startup deal.

  8. Brent says:

    I can’t help but think of the quote Billy Beane made after the last seemingly even Atlanta trade:

    “If Atlanta calls you and wants to discuss pitchers, hang up.”

    I am surprised so many are giving up on being able to resign Teixeira. Between Renteria, Wickman, Hampton, and Andruw Jones, Atlanta will be taking $42 million off the payroll by 2009. Other than Frenchy’s arbitration, Hudson’s $6 million raise, and Smoltzie’s $6 million raise, why can’t Atlanta throw some toward a new franchise cornerstone?

  9. ChuckO says:

    I agree with those who say that Schuerholz is taking a now-or-never approach to the team. Bobby Cos has said that he’s retiring after the 2008 season, and I’m sure the organization wants to send him off with a championship. Beyond that the future really is iffy. Schuerholz himself is 65, and everything I’ve read says that Liberty Media will sell the Braves in three years. Who knows how that will turn out? There’s plenty of incentive for taking a win now approach.

  10. Marc Schneider says:

    It seems like a bit of a gamble but not much. Salty was blocked here. The Braves have lots of middle infielders and, as others have noted, their history of young pitchers developing into actual major leaguers is not good. Moreover, it’s not like the Braves will never draft another pitcher. At some point, you have to try to win, not play for five years down the road. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves don’t make the playoffs this year but if they don’t, they have Tex for next year (albeit most likely with no Andruw). Pitching remains a problem but that would have been true even if they didn’t make the trade. Like it or not, the Braves are increasingly becoming a team built around offense rather than pitching, at least for a few years.

    And Jason’s assumption that they will lose in the first round is really an argument for never making any moves because you always lose in the first round. If you don’t get there, you can’t win.

  11. Ron says:

    It’s not much of a gamble at all. They traded a promising catcher who is blocked by a young All-Star catcher who they just signed to a multiyear deal and a bunch of prospects (2 of whom aren’t even 20 years old) that nobody right now knows how good they will be or whether they will ever make the major leagues for one of the top 5 first basemen in the game and several relief pitchers who will help solidify a bullpen that has been quite shaky the last few weeks. The result should give the Braves a great chance of making the playoffs and doing well if they get there.

  12. Solid move for both teams. Texas did a NICE job of selling and getting a nice catching prospect back. And Texy will most definitely help the Braves down the stretch. He is one of the most talented HR hitters in the game.

    What I mean by Talented HR Hitters?

    Well He’s not just one of those HR’s hitters that drop and drive dead pull or miss the ball and hit it out. This guy has GREAT hand Eye. Middle away middle in down up. He has enough talent to use his hands sit on a pitch or guess. Not many pure HR hitters have that kind of talent.