5 Best and 5 Worst Trades of the Atlanta Braves Rebuild: Part 1
30 months ago. It was time for a big decision and giving credit to the organization, the Atlanta Braves decided on a direction and committed to it.
After the 2014 season, the Atlanta Braves had a serious problem. The major-league team was coming off another September collapse and overall was just mediocre. Bogged down by bad contracts, under performing players, and impending free agents, the long-term outlook was bleak.
Add all that to a minor-league system that was one of the worst in baseball and you can see the important crossroads the Braves found themselves at in the winter of 2014.
Frank Wren was fired as GM and John Hart was brought in to oversee the rebuild. John Coppolella was quickly named his right-hand man and while the exact dynamic of their roles was unclear early on, eventually Coppy was named GM and Hart the President of Baseball Operations.
With the front office stabilized it was time to turn over the roster. What followed was one of the most complete and thorough roster rebuilds in memory. In tearing down the house, they kept the master bedroom (Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran) but everything else they basically took down to the studs.
Soon to be free agents – traded. Bad contracts – unloaded. Even cost-controlled, talented players were moved if the Johns felt the future value they were receiving was greater than the present value they were giving. It was absolute. And as a fan, it hurt.
The good news, though, is it looks like it’s coming to an end. The farm system has been reloaded at an almost historic level. The big club is ready to be at least respectable some veterans ready to stabilize the present while a pipeline of elite talent ready to contribute to the future. The rain clouds have dissipated if you will and hope is on the horizon.
So it feels like a good time to do a postmortem of sorts: what worked and what didn’t.
In a 3-part series, we’re going to look at the 5 best trades, the 5 worst trades and some honorable mentions that helped shape this rebuild.
A few points before we get started:
- I’ll try to explain my choices logically but this is inherently a subjective exercise. You will disagree with some of it and that’s okay. Just be respectful in your disagreement.
- I’m fully aware this process wasn’t built entirely on trades. Drafting, free agent signings, and international spending all contributed in big ways. But for now, we’re just looking at trades.
- I’ve chosen to measure each trade on its own merit. No connecting the dots down the line. For instance, the Jason Heyward/Shelby Miller trade doesn’t get a bump because of what Miller was eventually turned into. The Braves didn’t make trade 1 knowing trade 2 was going to happen so it shouldn’t be evaluated that way.
Okay: onto this list…