With the acquisition of Matt Kemp, the Atlanta Braves did something remarkable.
They got something in exchange for Hector Olivera.
But it was more than just “something,” it was a legitimate power hitter in Matt Kemp, a player the Braves most-certainly needed. But let’s face it, there have been some very bad trades over the years and, with them, the team has suffered. On the other hand, there have been some very good moves.
So, in celebration of the Braves making a good (make that an excellent move), I present the Top 5 Best Atlanta Braves Trades. As always, you can agree or disagree…as we all have our own opinions.
5.) The Braves get Matt Kemp from San Diego for Hector Olivera (2016)
I know it may be too early to trumpet this trade, but being able to get rid of Olivera in itself is a big deal. Even before the domestic violence charge, Olivera was a disaster. He was a horrible fielder, and don’t let that .114 average fool you; he was a much worse hitter than that. I know the Padres were quick to dump Kemp and his fat salary, but money aside, I’ll take Matt Kemp (or Shawn Kemp or even Jack Kemp) on my team any day over Olivera. He may prove to be ineffective for Atlanta, but he immediately gives the club a shot of power.
4.) The Braves get Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair from Arizona for Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier (2015)
How the Braves pulled off this one, is anyone’s guess. To call this a steal would be an understatement. Swanson was the overall number one pick in the 2015 June Draft and, after the trade immediately became the Braves number one ranked prospect, Blair had some great numbers in Double-A and Triple-A, and Inciarte was coming off a year where he batted .303 with 159 hits in the big leagues at age 24! On the other hand, Miller, in 14 games this year with Arizona, was 2-9 with a 7.14 ERA. He now has been optioned to Triple-A. Speier is in Double-A with Mobile in the Southern League.
3.) The Braves get Tim Hudson from Oakland in exchange for pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer and outfielder Charles Thomas (2004)
A lot of fan were, at that time, wondering why the Braves would part with Charles Thomas. In 2003, after the call-up from Richmond, he batted .288 with Atlanta and seemed to infuse some excitement into the team. However, in December of 2004, the Braves sent him packing for Oakland. Thomas played only one more year in the majors and ended his career in 2007 in Triple-A with the Milwaukee organization. Cruz bounced from Oakland, to Arizona, to Kansas City, to Tampa Bay to Pittsburgh. He ended his career in 2012 with a 4.05 ERA. Meyer’s five-year big league career ended in 2010 with a 5.46 ERA. On the other hand, Tim Hudson won 113 games with the Atlanta Braves over nine season and became one of the best pitchers in the National League during that time.
2.) The Braves get first baseman Fred McGriff from San Diego for outfielders Vince Moore and Melvin Nieves, and pitcher Donnie Elliott (1993)
McGriff’s impact on the Atlanta Braves was immediate. In 1993, he hit 18 homers with the Padres before the trade, and 19 with the Braves afterwards. All in all, in five years in Atlanta, McGriff hit 130 home runs and drove in 446. He was one of the premier players on the 1995 Braves that, of course won the World Series. The flip side of the trade: Elliott pitched only two years and in 31 games for San Diego, Nieves played for a total of seven years in the big leagues, was a career .231 hitter and finished out his playing days with stops in Japan and Mexico, and after getting as high as Double-A, Moore played his final seven years in independent baseball.
1.) The Braves get John Smoltz from Detroit for pitcher Doyle Alexander (1987)
It was a good trade for Detroit at the time, and Alexander was an immediate help to the 1987 Tigers in helping them win the American League East only to lose to the Twins in the ALCS, but Alexander pitched only two more years in the big leagues after that. For Smoltz, the Hall of Famer was one of the best starters and closers of his (or any) generation. He had 210 wins in 20 years in Atlanta and 154 saves. He won the NL Cy Young Award in 1996, the NL Rolaids Reliever of the Year in 2002 and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015 getting 82.9 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America.