Honorable Mention: The biggest trade that never happened.
I’m sure by now every Braves fan has heard the tale of the fabled deal that could have been, circa 1992. While not a deal at the deadline, it’s hard to talk about notable Braves trade history without mentioning a deal that would have drastically changed the course of the franchise.
Towards the beginning of the baseball year in 1992, around the time Spring Training was underway, former GM John Schuerholz had a trade in place to send Alejandro Pena, Kevin Mitchell, and a player to be named later for a lethal outfielder out of Pittsburgh named Barry, who would go on to become one of the most feared hitters in the history of the sport.
Maybe you’ve heard of him?
According to Eddie Becker of Bleacher Report, the deal was so far along that Schuerholz was actively preparing the press release announcing the trade. Every sign was pointing to the deal getting done, giving the Braves a deadly weapon in their outfield as they began their run of 14 consecutive division titles.
There was just one problem, and he had a bit of a short fuse and a pension for smoking cigars in the clubhouse.
Legendary baseball mind and coach of the 1992 Pittsburgh Pirates, Jim Leyland, heard about the deal heading to the dotted line and, in short, lost his mind. Grown weary by Pittsburgh’s method of salary dumping, he marched to the owner’s office and demanded the trade be killed, according to Becker.
The deal was scrapped faster than the speed of sound, the Braves remained stagnant, and Bonds finished the year in Pittsburgh, putting up a staggering line of .311/.624/.1.080 with 33 HR, 114 RBI, and 39 SB en route to his second MVP season in three years. The following offseason, he would go home to San Fransisco, where he spent the remainder of his 15 years in the big leagues; and the rest is history.
The thought of baseball’s “villain” roaming the outfield for the dynastic Braves is enough to almost make someone crazy; a bat that potent in the powerful Braves lineup may have potentially led them even farther in the Postseason than we saw the team go during the decade. While the notion is exciting to think about, unfortunately, it will remain just that: a dream. This begs the million-dollar question: what if?
That deal didn’t happen. So, let’s look at a couple that did.