Atlanta Braves Trade for Edgar Renteria, Reshuffle Lineup

The Atlanta Braves, which have become a small market team salarywise despite living in a major market and being owned by Time Warner, has made several moves over the last few hours. Combined with some non-moves they have made this offseason, the opening day roster will once again be quite different from the one that finished the previous season.

The big news: Braves acquire SS Renteria

The Atlanta Braves have negotiated a trade to bring Boston Red Sox shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta for top prospect Andy Marte. The Braves will also receive money from the Red Sox to help cover the $29 million Renteria is owed over the final three years on his contract.

Renteria, a four-time All-Star, owns a .288 career average, with 91 home runs, 635 RBIs and a .345 on-base percentage in 10 seasons with Florida, St. Louis and Boston. He’s averaged 11 homers, 35 doubles and 74 RBIs over the past seven seasons. However, he was a disappointment in his only season with the Red Sox, leading the majors in errors with 30. Renteria, 30, won Gold Gloves in 2002 and 2003 for St. Louis where he spent six seasons and picked up three Silver Slugger Awards as the top hitting shortstop in the National League. He has batted second for most of his career and has only 247 at bats in the leadoff position.

Marte is rated as the top prospect in the Braves organization. The 22-year-old slugger hit .275 with 20 homers and 75 RBIs at Class AAA Richmond last season and struggled in his brief time in the majors. He hit .140 with no homers in 57 at-bats for the Braves.

This, combined with losing home-grown star Rafael Furcal to the free-spending-but-mediocre L.A. Dodgers, is the biggest change in the lineup. Furcal was a solid leadoff man, a decent hitter, and an excellent defensive shortstop. In order to save money, they’ve now lost Furcal and their top prospect and added a no-glove guy to the middle of their infield.

Dan Kolb, a high priced acquisition who was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason to allow John Smoltz to move from being a dominant closer to an injury riddled starter, has now been traded back to the Brewers for a sack of magic beans. Actually, “mediocre right-hander Wes Obermueller” who, at 28, is at the peak of his career and who was “1-4 with a 5.26 ERA in 23 games (eight starts) last season for the Brewers.” The guy who finished the season as the closer, Kyle Farnsworth, signed with the Yankees to be their setup man, taking a career demotion for a bigger paycheck.

Meanwhile, catcher Johnny Estrada, acquired three years ago in a trade for superstar pitcher Kevin Milwood, has been traded “to Arizona for right-handed relievers Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal, both young, neither distinguished.”

The Braves are apparently about to lose 47-year-old wonder Julio Franco even though they offered arbitration to past-their-prime retreads Eddie Perez and Brian Jordan.

Regardless, the Braves will almost certainly manage to win their 15th straight division title and then lose again in the first round of the playoffs. The Florida Marlins are having a fire sale, the Philadelphia Phillies let their window close, the Washington Nationals have lost several of their best players as they wait for their ownership and stadium situation to get decided, and the New York Mets continue to spend too much money on the wrong players.

Still, unless there are some real surprises in their starting pitching rotations and bullpens, the Braves just don’t have enough guns to win a playoff series.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘acquired three years ago in a trade for superstar pitcher Kevin Milwood’

    Superstar? What’re you related to the guy? Coming off a 9-11 season with a career record of 107-75 isn’t exactly superstar material.

  2. Mark says:

    Millwood may not be a “superstar” the way a Barry Bonds or Derek Jeter is, but he is definitely can be considered a staff ace when he is healthy. Yeah, he was 9-11 for my Indians last season, but he lead the American League in ERA and got horrible run support from the Indians every time he pitched (less than 3 runs a game if I remember correctly).

    Besides, I would not have considered a pitcher with a record of 68-60 after his first eight seasons in the majors “superstar” material either, but I’ll be damned if that is what Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax became, despite that mediocre record.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Fair point, although he had a couple of dominant seasons and made a strong push for a Cy Young as a Brave. He also pitched a no hitter his first season with the Phillies.

    Here’s the ESPN piece on the trade:

    “It’s a shock,” Millwood said. “But I’m excited to be going to a team that wants to win.”

    The Phillies had missed out on their top two pitching choices this offseason. Glavine, a two-time NL Cy Young award winner, decided to sign with the Mets and Jamie Moyer chose to stay in Seattle.

    Braves general manager John Schuerholz explained the move, telling ESPN’s Karl Ravech that this wasn’t a baseball trade, but rather a trade fostered by the economics of baseball.

    “With Kevin’s arbitration number projected to be $10 million this season and with Greg Maddux accepting arbitration we were $15 million over budget,” Schuerholz told ESPN. “The economics in baseball stink. The economics stink, and if this isn’t a clear enough signal to the doubters and naysayers, to be forced to trade an 18-game winner to your arch enemy … The economics stink.”

    Even so, some might question why the Braves would trade Millwood to a team within their own division.

    “I tried. No one was willing to take the $10 million this season,” Schuerholz told Ravech. “Only one team (wanted to), and it was the team he was ultimately traded to. As late as 15 minutes before the deal was finalized, I was on the phone and not one team was willing to move.”

    Philadelphia has already upgraded its offense by signing free-agent first baseman Jim Thome and third baseman David Bell.

    Millwood was 18-8 with a 3.24 ERA last season, helping the Braves win an unprecedented 11th straight division title. It was his best season since 1999, when he was 18-7 with a 2.68 ERA and finished third in the NL Cy Young voting.

  4. ICallMasICM says:

    Over the last 3 seasons he’s 32-29 in 90 starts. He hasn’t pitched over 200 innings in a season since ’03. Over the last 6 seasons he’s 67-57 and has 1 15 win season, 18 in ’02, 2 losing seasons and 1 .500 season. I’m not knocking the guy, but I’m not going to throw $10m at him either.

    And this guy has as much chance of turning into Sandy Koufax as I do.