I have to start this out by saying if I could title this “Trades in Braves History” rather than best or worst, I would. In my opinion, this was one of the worst trades on the surface, but then it turned out great once the dust cleared. This is one of the most interesting trades the Braves have made because it wound up having many moving parts. Let’s break down Best Trades in Braves History: Martin Prado!
The Initial Trade
Martin Prado: Prado was a fan favorite and a clubhouse leader. This was what made this trade hurt so much. I vividly remember waking up that day and reading the news headlines and falling into a mini depression for the next few days, Prado was my favorite player for as long as I could remember. For comparison sake, Prado was worth 6.2 WAR over the next 2 seasons, just a tad over Upton. Below is an awesome highlight video from Prado’s last season as a Brave, 2012.
Justin Upton: Upton put up two solid seasons in a Braves uni, worth 5.9 WAR combined and finishing 17th in MVP voting during the second. He was then traded to the Padres for Jace Peterson, Mallex Smith, Max Fried, and Dustin Peterson. This is where it starts to get complex.
Chris Johnson: After bouncing around league average, Chris Johnson hit an outstanding .321 in 2013 and put up 2.5 WAR, earning a 3-year, $23.5M extension. That didn’t end well at all, as Johnson was worth negative 0.9 WAR across the next two seasons before being DFA’d.
Delgado, Spruill, Ahmed and Drury: Delgado, Spruill and Drury never amounted to much. Ahmed, on the other hand, broke out over the past two years with two 4+ WAR seasons. Sure, it took four years for him to get there, but that’s huge production for what appears to be a trade throw in.
The Secondary Trade
Justin Upton was sent to the San Diego in exchange for Jace Peterson, Mallex Smith, Max Fried and Dustin Peterson.
Justin Upton: In his walk year Upton was worth 4.2 WAR for the Padres. This was enough to earn him a 6-year, $108M deal from the Tigers in the offseason.
Max Fried: Now emerging as the cream of the crop, Fried alone made this entire mess a good trade. Worth 3 WAR in his first full season as a starter, the Braves are excited to see if Max can become a staff ace with a wicked curveball.
Jace Peterson: Jace had two above average seasons in Atlanta, but has since been a below average player.
Mallex Smith: In 2016, Mallex stole 16 bases in just 65 times on base (not including PR opportunities). He was then traded to Seattle for Luiz Gohara. He broke out with a 3.6 WAR 2018 in Tampa Bay before being traded back to Seattle and struggling in 2019. I always liked Mallex and wished we could’ve kept him in Atlanta.
Dustin Peterson: Peterson went 0-2 with a strikeout in his Braves career. Safe to say he wasn’t the focal point of the deal.
Best or Worst Trade?
Tying this all together, the Braves gave up a clubhouse leader and fan favorite for 2 years of similar production that they then flipped for Max Fried. They lost some money due Frank Wren’s poor decision on Chris Johnson, but it is possible the Braves don’t make the playoffs without Chris Johnson’s breakout 2013, although they won the division by 10 games. It is also disappointing that Nick Ahmed now appears to be a perennial All-Star, but I don’t think anybody saw that coming after his first few years in the majors seemed pretty lackluster. All in all, I’m calling this trade a win. The team was slightly improved in 2013/2014 and Max Fried still has five years of control to make up for the disappointment many fans still feel by the loss of Prado 7 years ago.
As he was always a clubhouse leader, excellent teammate and great mentor, let’s all hope when Martin officially retires he decides to take up a coaching position in Atlanta.
Thanks for reading on Best Trades in Braves History, Martin Prado. Check out our entire category of Braves Best/Worst Trades in History here.