Mark Teixeira, one of the hottest names bandied about before tomorrow’s trade deadline, has just been traded. The Rangers are sending the first baseman and a lefty reliever, Rob Mahay, to the Braves. The Braves are giving up their top two prospects (and with them, any chance of reclaiming the awesome-nickname-days of yore).
Some suspected that Texas wanted to dump Teixeira because he was a chronic complainer. Nevertheless, it seems they got a lot in return. According to early reports, Atlanta sent them top-rated catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop-of-the-future Elvis Andrus, pitching prospect Matt Harrison and 19-year-old righthander Nestali Feliz. Salty (as he is known) and Elvis (Elvis!!) are the top two prospects in the Braves’ organization. Harrison is their third-ranked youngster.
Teixeira is eligible for salary arbitration after this season. He becomes a free agent at the end of next season.
I can’t decide whether the Rangers have made out like bandits, or whether the Braves got Teixeira cheap. One the one hand, all the Braves had to give up was prospects. On the other, they reportedly gave up the best three prospects they had.
Here’s the short version on Teixeira:
Teixeira, a 27-year-old switch-hitting slugger, has won two Gold Gloves at first base. He is batting .297 this season with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs. Since breaking into the majors with Texas in 2003, Teixeira has had seasons of 26, 38, 43 and 33 home runs.
Only Ralph Kiner, Albert Pujols and Eddie Mathews hit more than the 140 homers that Teixeira had in his first four major league seasons. He had at least 33 homers and 110 RBIs in each of the past three.
The former Georgia Tech star will be a huge upgrade for the Braves, who’ve slid to third in the NL East and have been using stand-ins at first this year. But was it worth ditching their top three prospects, plus this guy Feliz? Well, Saltalamacchia had nowhere to go after the Braves re-upped last year’s breakout catcher, Brian McCann, to a six-year deal. Here’s what Baseball Prospectus has to say about Salty, Elvis, and Harrison.
Elvis Andrus: Only 18, he’s “as toolsy as he is young” and “even if he’s only a speedy line-drive hitter with good glove-work, that’s still a potential All-Star, and there’s a chance he’ll be more than that.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Twenty-two and six-foot-four, Salty battled a hand injury last season in Double A, but once he kicked it, hit “.338/.474/.649 in the last two months…the other good news is that he improved behind the plate, throwing out 36 percent of opposing runners.”
Matt Harrison: The 21-year old is built in the classic mode: a hulking lefty who likes to throw heat. Like Nuke LaLoosh he can hit 95, but generally works in the low 90s. Unlike Ebbie Calvin, however, he can also control where the ball is going. He “throws a ton of strikes and supplements his heat with a plus curve and change.”
I suppose it makes sense to move Saltalamacchia, if you’re confident you want to go with McCann. I mean, that’s what extraneous prospects are for, right? To use as chips. But to blow all your chips on one dude? I dunno. If the Braves miss the playoffs again this year, they may end up with buyers’ remorse.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have ended up with a young shortstop and a lefthanded starting pitcher for the future, and a catcher they could stick behind the plate tomorrow (sorry Gerald Laird). I’m going to have to give the Rangers the edge on this one. At least it looks like they have some kind of organizational philosophy. The Braves, on the other hand, still seem to be wandering in the desert.