On July 29, 2007, the Atlanta Braves were just 55-51, desperate to ascend to the NL East title throne once again after a long, strange, streak-breaking 2006 season that ended under .500. After over a decade of divisional dominance, the New York Mets were now the team that looked dynastic (ok, then!), and the Braves were desperate to infuse their lineup (which was now too Matt Diaz-heavy) with more reliable power and plate discipline.
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers were 46-59 on that very same day, fresh off a 10-0 beating at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, two teams still lightyears from where they wanted to be. Texas' blistering offense hadn't developed yet, and though portions of the core were in place (Ian Kinsler had a strong year, Nelson Cruz did not, Michael Young exuded steadiness always), a lot of the lineup was still chunked up with spare parts, like Kenny Lofton and...DH SAMMY SOSA.
With little hope of riding a weak pitching staff back into contention in a division still owned by the A's, the Rangers went to work deconstructing things, offering their premier young asset in 27-year-old Mark Teixeira, a season and a half away from free agency. Atlanta bit.
Braves-Rangers Mark Teixeira Trade Details
- Braves Received: Mark Teixeira, Ron Mahay
- Rangers Received: Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Beau Jones
Somehow, the Rangers convinced Atlanta to hand over three men who transformed the Rangers into back-to-back pennant winners for what ultimately amounted to two half-seasons of Teixeira.
In 54 games for Atlanta in 2007, Tex dominated, hitting .317 with 17 homers and 56 RBI -- however, as the Phillies chased down the Mets from behind and took the NL East, Atlanta still finished a morose third. At 2008's deadline, still stuck in pedigree behind the rampaging Mets and Phils, the Braves sent Teixeira west to the Angels, where he put up the best stretch of his career, hitting .358 in 54 games, then cashing in with the Yankees the following winter.
But the reason the '09-era Yankees only went to the big dance once on Tex's watch was...the new-look Rangers. Transformed specifically by the Teixeira trade, as well as the bold plays to add Josh Hamilton, Cliff Lee, and import a late-career Vlad Guerrero, Texas took the Yankees out 4-2 in the ALCS. A 21-year-old Andrus locked down shortstop, hitting .265, and a 22-year-old Felix saved 40 games and won Rookie of the Year honors. He also locked down the final out to ensure a trip to the Fall Classic, freezing A-Rod into the offseason.
Harrison got his due the next season, when Texas...went to the World Series yet again. He went 14-9 with a 3.39 mark that year, then threw five three-hit innings in an excellent ALCS start against Detroit. If Nelson Cruz's final body movement in right had been 10% less awkward, all three of these men would be ringed.
Unfortunately, Salty never made it to the World Series...in Texas, that is. He was dealt again at the 2010 deadline to the Boston Red Sox for very little return, where he eventually grew out a wild beard, just like the rest of that sloppy lot. After David Ortiz's season-changing grand slam into the bullpen in Game 2 of the ALCS against Detroit, he delivered the walk-off smash a few innings later, setting Boston on a crash course for their third ring of the decade.
Who Won the Braves-Rangers Mark Teixeira Trade?
Isn't it obvious? As great as Teixeira was in his prime, and as much as he mashed during two separate half-seasons in Atlanta, this trade legitimately built the core of a World Series team on the other side. It's rare to be able to trace so linearly back to when back-to-back AL Championships became a reality, but getting three key cogs in one fell swoop is borderline a once-in-a-lifetime trade steal.