The last time the Braves made one of those, “The future is now,” trades, John Schuerholz sent a bundle of prospects to the Texas Rangers for Mark Teixeira.
Didn’t work out. Teixeira wasn’t the missing piece for a World Series team. He wasn’t even the missing piece for a second-place team.
Here’s another chance to get it right. I don’t know if the Braves are one player away from playing for a championship. But Adrian Gonzalez gets them closer than any other player they could acquire. Economics may force the San Diego Padres to trade the All-Star first baseman.
There is no downside to getting Gonzalez, other than whatever/whoever it is the Braves would have to send San Diego in a trade. But here’s the upside:
♦ He gives the Braves the power hitter and run producer their lineup desperately needs. His home run totals have consistently increased — from 24 to 30 to 36 to 40. Last year, he also drew 119 walks. With a.277 batting average, that gave him a .407 on-base percentage, which would’ve ranked first among Braves’ regulars.
♦ Gonzalez has a favorable contract: $4.75 million and $5.5 million in the next two seasons. Then he becomes a free agent. It’s the same situation the Braves faced with Teixeira (they traded him before the deadline in year two when they dropped out of the playoff race).
♦ Gonzalez is a better option than re-signing Adam LaRoche, who may require a three-year contract and isn’t nearly as good of a player. It creates a situation with prospect first basemen Freddie Freeman, but the genuine concern over that probably is a year away — unless Freeman is included in the deal.
♦ Gonzalez gives the Braves a power hitter in his prime to go with all of their pitching. It lessens the offensive load on Chipper Jones, who is coming off a down season, and takes the pressure off Wren for acquiring a high-impact corner outfielder to strengthen the lineup.
The San Diego Union Tribune reported at least three teams — the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston and Seattle — expressed interest in Gonzalez at the deadline last July. The newspaper also quoted a source saying, “I think it’s only a matter of time until they trade Adrian,” and reported the player was “conspicuously absent” from a season-ticket brochure mailed to fans.
He would be a needed boost for ticket sales — and the lineup — in Atlanta.