July tends to be a lot of fun for baseball fans as the rumor mill really gets going. Despite a plethora of moves around the calendar year, the Braves have been fairly quiet in recent years at the deadline. And when they have made moves, it’s come back to bite them more times than not.
With the next two weeks looking to be quite busy, let’s take a look back on the last five trade deadlines in Atlanta.
The last time the Braves won the division was 2013, and Frank Wren did not pull the trigger on a major deal to improve the club. The only move of note came on July 29 when they sent prospect Cory Rasmus to the Los Angeles Angels for reliever Scott Downs.
Downs never quite got his footing in Atlanta despite a strong start to the year in Southern California. He appeared in 25 games but completed just 14 innings in more of a specialty role. His 3.86 ERA was palatable, but he was fortunate to escape given a WHIP of nearly two. Downs was left off the playoff roster.
Rasmus last pitched professionally in 2016. He was released by the Rays in April of 2017 and is not pitching anywhere (that I can find, anyway). He made 84 big league appearances, including eight starts, and saw mixed results.
2014 saw the trade that brought Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell to the Braves in exchange for catching prospect Victor Caratini.
This season as a whole stunk, and this trade wasn’t much better. We all know of Bonifacio’s continued struggles in Atlanta. Russell came over and did his job — he posted a 2.22 ERA over 24 1⁄3 innings — although he returned to Chicago that winter.
Caratini, almost 25 now, made his debut with the Cubs last season. He’s been more of a bench piece and batted .266/.335/.350 through 158 plate appearances. He seems unlikely to ever be a full-time starter, but he should be a serviceable bench piece in the coming years.
Two trades, one of which you probably don’t want to think about anymore.
The first was innocent enough, and it helped the Braves add better pieces down the road. As the better-than-expected-during-the-first-three-months Braves started to fall apart, they sent Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets for pitching prospects John Gant and Rob Whalen.
The Braves would use Gant to acquire Jaime Garcia from the Cardinals that winter. Gant has found his footing with St. Louis this year, pitching in 11 games and making six starts with solid numbers across the board. Whalen would also be traded to Seattle (along with Max Povse) to acquire Alex Jackson, a deal that has worked out favorably for the Braves.
And as for the other trade:
Alex Wood, Jose Peraza, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan and Bronson Arroyo for Hector Olivera, Zach Bird, Paco Rodriguez and a draft pick.
In what remains as one of the worst trades of the last 20 years, the Braves’ front office let a bizarre fascination with Olivera get the best of them.
Wood has gone on to excel with the Dodgers over the last three years. In his 66 starts since the trade he’s posted a 3.50 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 8.34 K/9 and 2.34 BB/9 with a 27-18 record.
Elsewhere, Peraza is a serviceable starter in Cincinnati. Johnson and Avilan are still pitching in the majors, too. As we know, Olivera would struggle with the Braves before eventually assaulting a woman and getting traded again.
At least the Braves were able to get Joey Wentz with the draft pick included in the deal.
The first of two July trades involved the Braves selling high on Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez in exchange for Rangers prospect Travis Demeritte. Predictably, Harrell and Alvarez crashed back down to earth not long after the deal.
Demeritte is yet to figure things out in the minors, although he might be able to stick as a utility guy in the bigs one day.
The second trade was a stunner. With Hector Olivera dealing with the fallout of his arrest for assaulting a woman, John Coppolella and Co. were able to find a suitor for what almost everyone believed to be a non-tradable contract. The return? Matt Kemp and Matt Kemp’s monster of a contract.
We all know how things have played out with Kemp. He hit when he was healthy, but injury problems prevented him from staying in shape. He would later be traded to the Dodgers, where he was recently named a starter in the All Star Game. Such is life. It was the right trade to make.
There were plenty of rumors, but it ended up being a fairly quiet deadline. The Braves sent Jaime Garcia to the Twins for Huascar Ynoa*, who is currently with the Rome Braves.
*The Braves and Twins originally agreed to a deal involving relief prospect Nick Burdi for Garcia, but there were medical concerns that prevented the trade from happening.
To recap, outside of the Wood/Olivera debacle, there really hasn’t been a ton of action at the deadline. Almost all of the club’s major moves have been made during the winter months in recent years. Will that trend continue under Alex Anthopoulos? The next two weeks should be fun.