Braves finally acquire Teixeira

At least now we can start analyzing this deal as if it has happened.

DOB at the Journal-Constitution is reporting that the trade has been finalized.  Apparently he’s already in a Braves uniform on Wikipedia.  My initial reaction is this: if I can now type “Francoeur,” I can one day hope to type “Teixeira” without thinking about it.  It’s ‘ei’ both times.

The Braves gave up Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and an unnamed “lesser pitching prospect” (probably Neftali Feliz) for the former Georgia Tech star, and they also acquired veteran lefty Ron Mahay in the deal.  Specifically, the Braves gave up their best hitting prospect (if you still consider Salty a prospect), an 18-year-old SS prospect widely-viewed as having tremendous upside (but so far with no results), their top high-level pitching prospect, and a low-level pitcher with a notably “live” arm.  Arguably, these were four of the top 10 players in the minor league system.

Teixeira is 27 and has a career hitting line of .283/.368/.533 while playing half his games in Arlington, which has a three-year park factor of 1.20, second-highest in baseball after Coors Field.  That’s still a career OPS+ of 127, even after you consider his home ballpark.  He has a WPA of +.850 this year (WPA/LI of +.550), which would place him fifth among Braves hitters.  His best season was 2005, when he posted an OPS+ of 147 and finished seventh in the AL MVP voting.  He’ll be a good hitter and a big upgrade over Thorman/Franco/Salty, and I don’t think anyone is questioning that.  If the Rangers aren’t sending over any cash, the Braves will be on the hook for about $3-3.5 million of his salary this year, and he’ll probably get something in the neighborhood of $12M through arbitration next year before becoming a free agent.

Mahay is a 36-year-old lefty with a 2.77 ERA this year, and he will probably be used as a LOOGY even though his platoon split is not huge (.749 OPS against vs. RHB, .723 vs. LHB).  You could argue that the Braves needed a lefty in the pen, and I’m sure Bobby Cox was probably pushing for one.  I suppose it’s good that the Braves will have another warm body out there, at least.  He’ll cost the Braves about $425K for the rest of the year.

It’s probably not important what I think about Schuerholz’ tendency to trade top prospects.  While there are a few deals the Braves might want back (Jason Schmidt in the Denny Neagle deal, and possibly Adam Wainwright in the J.D. Drew deal), the vast majority of these deals have helped the team both in the short-term and the long-term.  I came down firmly against the trade for Edgar Renteria, and now Andy Marte has mysteriously stalled out in the high minors.  Max Ramirez (sent to Cleveland for Wickman) is killing the ball in the Rangers’ system, but he’s also 22 and playing high-A ball.  Jose Capellan has been barely serviceable since going to Milwaukee for Dan Kolb.

Still, this is quite the haul for the Rangers, and I would most likely have not offered this trade.  I obviously don’t know as much about the Braves’ system as Schuerholz, so there may be something he knows about Salty, Andrus, et. al. that I don’t.  Financially, this will be a big burden for the Braves .  Unless the payroll is going up significantly next year, it’s now even more unlikely that the Braves will keep Andruw Jones.

Will the Braves be better with Teixeira?  Unquestionably.  Will he help the Braves to a division title this year or next year?  Possibly.  Will he help them win another World Series? Doubtful, but you never know, since pretty much anything can happen once you reach the playoffs.  Those may be the only questions that matter, and if that’s the case, both teams come out as winners in this deal.

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