Most have this belief that who ultimately wins a trade is based on the players that are actually in the trade. This tends to not be true in many instances. For instance, take the trade that sent Justin Upton and Aaron Northcraft to the Padres this winter. Now, we can put up the value that Upton posts and compare that with the value that the four prospects the Braves got out of the deal post for the Braves (that may take awhile), but doing so ignores a few things. If Upton leaves San Diego after this season, the Padres likely present a qualifying offer to Upton, which will bring a draft choice between the first and the second rounds. Also, maybe the Braves end up trading Jace Peterson. There are levels of deciding the winner of a trade that ultimately take a few years to see. Of course, we can further complicate things by looking even deeper, such as did acquiring Upton help get the Padres to the playoffs, but that’s an opinion. An educated one, but an opinion. So, I’m going to try to look at some big trades the Braves have done over the years and, using WAR from Fangraphs, let’s see who the winner is.
Background: The Braves pitching in 2007 was pretty horrendous. The front of the rotation was solid, but the 2007 Braves used Buddy Carlyle as a starter 20 times and gave a combined 43 starts to this group of failures: Kyle Davies, Jo-Jo Reyes, Lance Cormier, Mark Redmon, and Jeff Bennett. Their only pitching prospects had been traded to the Rangers. The Braves needed options and a MLB-ready pitcher like Jurrjens was a perfect addition. Renty had been phased out by a young double-play combination, Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar. He also had one year left on his mega deal he had signed with the Red Sox, plus an option that the Red Sox would cover about 30% of. The deal would be Frank Wren’s first as general manager and ultimately one of his best.
|Jurrjens +9.0 WAR||Renteria +1.2 WAR|
First Level: Renteria would play only one season with the Tigers and, coming after two seasons where he was around 4 fWAR, his 2008 was a major letdown. His offensive profile was pretty similar to his one year with the Red Sox, though he did walk less. That season in Boston is why the Braves had him in the first place. As Renty wasn’t offered arbitration, the Tigers did not receive a draft choice once he signed with the Giants. The Tigers will only receive 1.2 fWAR from this trade. Meanwhile, Jurrjens would outperform Renty in his first year with the Braves and would post back-to-back 3 fWAR years before injuries began to accumulate, leading to a trio of down years before he was non-tendered after the 2012 season. Hernandez would never play in Atlanta.
|Nate McLouth +0.2 WAR|
Second Level: Hardly much of an addition, McLouth was picked up during the 2009 season for Hernandez and two other prospects. McLouth posted pretty good numbers during his time with the Braves after the trade, giving him a 1.5 WAR. He would have an almost equally awful follow-up campaign. After a mediocre and injury-wrecked 2011, the Braves let McLouth hit free agency and did not get compensation.
Final Analysis: The Braves easily win the trade with 8.0 fWAR postive difference between the two teams. Of course, it could have been a lot worse had Jurrjens stayed healthy or had McLouth not fell on his face. I didn’t include Jeff Locke or Charlie Morton, the two players who joined Hernandez in the McLouth trade, but if you added their collective WAR (6.3), the Braves are still looking pretty for now. But I didn’t include those two because that trade should be looked at as its own trade. Ooo, the next Trade Retrospective is writing itself.