This trade from last offseason could come back to bite the Braves

MLB: OCT 10 NL Division Series Braves Practice

Alex Anthopoulos is one of the best general managers in all of sports, not just the game of baseball. The Braves have won six straight division titles along with a World Series under his watch since he took over as GM ahead of the 2018 season, and they are set up for future success better than any other organization in the sport. It really is the golden era of baseball in Atlanta all over again, but that doesn’t mean every move Anthopoulos has made has worked out in the team’s favor.

Last offseason, the Braves made a couple of head-scratching trades that don’t necessarily look like home runs. The most notable was the acquisition of Sean Murphy. Murphy was fantastic for the Braves last season, particularly in the first half; however, Anthopoulos moved William Contreras and several other prospects in the trade. Contreras was already an All-Star caliber catcher for the Braves, and he went on to lead all catchers in fWAR for the Brewers in 2023.

To say the Braves lost the Murphy trade would be jumping the gun. It’s far too early to come to conclusions, but it is possible they may have been better off just riding with Contreras rather than swinging a blockbuster trade. With that being said, nobody is unhappy having Murphy in Atlanta long-term; the other trade Alex Anthopoulos swung last offseason is much more of a head-scratcher.

The Braves bullpen desperately needed a worthwhile addition, but instead of spending some money on the open market, Anthopolous made a trade with the Tigers for Joe Jimenez, sending highly regarded outfield prospect Justyn-Henry Malloy to Detroit.

Like Murphy, Jimenez wasn’t bad for the Braves last season by any means. He actually turned into one of the most reliable weapons out of the bullpen for Brian Snitker by the end of the year, but it was a steep price to pay for a reliever entering the final year of his contract.

After a stellar 2022 campaign, Malloy had become arguably the top position player prospect in the Braves farm system, and he’s done nothing but impress since the trade. In 135 games for the Tigers AAA affiliate, Malloy blasted a career high 23 homers and got on base at a .417 clip, good for an OPS of nearly .900. He looks every bit the part of an everyday major-leaguer and could have been the Braves long-term answer in left field.

The Braves can feel slightly better about the trade because they were able to re-sign Jimenez to a three-year contract this offseason. Still, it doesn’t matter how you slice it. Trading away a potential everyday player before he even reaches the majors for a rental reliever is not good business. If Malloy’s success continues at the next level, it might go down as the worst move of Alex Anthopoulos’ tenure as Braves general manager.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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